Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography

2013 Fall Seminar Series


David Earnest
Dept. of Political Science & Geography and International Studies
Old Dominion University

Monday, November 18, 2013
3:30 PM
Room 1202, Engineering and Computational Sciences Building


This talk explores the role of social factors in community adaptation to recurrent hazards such as flooding. Specifically, it examines how social networks affect individual decisions to purchase insurance. Traditional microeconomic models assume two factors affect whether an individual buys insurance: the intrinsic hazard rate of the natural process, and the ability of individuals to perceived accurately their risk. This study hypothesizes that social factors also play a role in estimating risk, particularly when non-ergodic natural processes change the hazard rate in unpredictable ways. Social factors may include "strong" ties such as family relations, and "weak" relations such as the choices of community members or neighbors. To test this hypothesis, the study develops an agent-based model of individuals participating in an insurance market. Agents have heterogeneous wealth, and decide whether or not to insure against a nonstationary hazard probability. The study experimentally varies the social structure of agents to assess whether information sharing and "trust" improve risk-mitigation decisions. If social factors affect agents' estimates of risk, stronger community networks and sharing of information may facilitate individual-level mitigation of risk and reducing the shifting of costs to taxpayers.


David C. Earnest, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies. His research uses computational social simulation to study interstate cooperation. He has published findings in International Studies Quarterly (2008) and has written about the epistemology of computational methods in Complexity in World Politics (Neil Harrison, ed., SUNY Press, 2006). He is author of Old Nations, New Voters: Nationalism, Transnationalism and Democracy in the Era of Global Migration (SUNY Press, 2008) and co-author of On the Cutting Edge of Globalization (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005). He has also published in leading journals including World Politics, Foreign Policy, International Interactions, and Globalizations. Dr. Earnest has previously taught at the George Washington University, the University of Sydney Business School, and Syddansk Universitet (University of Southern Denmark). Old Dominion University has recognized Dr. Earnest's teaching with the Robert L. Stern Award for Excellence in Teaching (2013) and the Instructional Technology Teaching Award (2006). He is also a two-time recipient of Faculty Innovator Grants (2006 and 2011) from the Center for Teaching and Learning at ODU.

Reception before seminar at 3:00 PM

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