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Published 1981 | public
Journal Article

The economics of building codes to resist seismic shock


This paper applies the theory of optimal investment under risk to the problem of evaluating building codes to make structures more resistant to earthquakes. A simple equation is derived that can be used to estimate the implicit values of the social costs of earth quake damages that are necessary to justify an increment to the seismic resistivity of a structure, and an illustrative empirical application is made to evaluate a recently proposed earthquake building code. The paper also examines the effects of earthquake prediction information on both private decisions regarding the structural integrity of buildings and the social attractiveness of seismic building codes.

Additional Information

© 1981 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Part of the costs of preparing this manuscript were financed by a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and part by a grant from the National Science Foundation program of Research Applied to National Needs, grant no. AOI75-16566A01. We are grateful to George Housner, Paul Joskow, James Rosse and an anonymous referee for comments on an earlier draft. Formerly SSWP 130.

Additional details

August 19, 2023
October 17, 2023