Poorer Is Riskier: Opportunity for Change

by Richard C. Schwing, General Motors Corp, Warren, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Risk-Based Decision Making in Water Resources VI


With regard to water resources, it is appropriate to build upon two interacting themes of the late Aaron Wildavsky (1988). The first of Wildavsky's themes is the idea of resiliency. The second theme, which interacts with resiliency, is `richer is safer.' Existing empirical data are provided to support some of Wildavsky's views. There is a universal tendency in the advanced nations of the world for three important statistical variables to increase fairly uniformly as time progresses. They are safety, as measured by life expectancy; quality of life, as measured by real GNP per person; and energy use per person. Causation cannot be proven by these correlations. However, the data indicate that increased available energy leads to increased development, which in turn leads to increases in average life span. A final section provides several examples of microlevel and macrolevel mechanisms for income to cause an increase in longevity.

Subject Headings: Energy measurement | Health hazards | Economic factors | Water resources | Empirical equations | Correlation | Social factors | Statistics

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