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Promoting Seismic Retrofit Implementation Through “Nudge”: Using Warranty as a Driver

Authors


Address correspondence to Toshio Fujimi, Graduate School of Science and Technology, Kumamoto University, 2-39-1 Kurokami, Kumamoto 860-8555, Japan; fujimi@kumamoto-u.ac.jp.

Abstract

This article proposes a new type of warranty policy that applies the “nudge” concept developed by Thaler and Sunstein to encourage homeowners in Japan to implement seismic retrofitting. Homeowner adaptation to natural disasters through loss reduction measures is known to be inadequate. To encourage proactive risk management, the “nudge” approach capitalizes on how choice architecture can influence human decision-making tendencies. For example, people tend to place more value on a warranty for consumer goods than on actuarial value. This article proposes a “warranty for seismic retrofitting” as a “nudge” policy that gives homeowners the incentive to adopt loss reduction measures. Under such a contract, the government guarantees all repair costs in the event of earthquake damage to the house if the homeowner implements seismic retrofitting. To estimate the degree to which a warranty will increase the perceived value of seismic retrofitting, we use field survey data from 1,200 homeowners. Our results show that a warranty increases the perceived value of seismic retrofitting by an average of 33%, and an approximate cost-benefit analysis indicates that such a warranty can be more economically efficient than an ex ante subsidy. Furthermore, we address the failure of the standard expected utility model to explain homeowners’ decisions based on warranty evaluation, and explore the significant influence of ambiguity aversion on the efficacy of seismic retrofitting and nonanalytical factors such as feelings or trust.

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