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An economic and ethical analysis of the Katrina disaster

Robert W. McGee (Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 6 June 2008




The purpose of this paper is to apply economic and ethical analysis to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina to determine which approaches to disaster relief work best and which should be abandoned.


This paper provides a combination of narrative with argument and analysis.


Government involvement in disaster relief has proven to be economically inefficient and also rights‐violating. Private sector initiatives and economic and political freedom provide better solutions.

Practical implications

The findings point to ways that can improve the economic efficiency of providing disaster relief while also safeguarding property and contract rights.


This paper combines economic and ethical analysis and includes discussions from the perspectives of both utilitarian ethics and rights‐based ethics, which is not usually done in the economics literature.



McGee, R.W. (2008), "An economic and ethical analysis of the Katrina disaster", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 35 No. 7, pp. 546-557.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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