Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Moral Hazard and Yuppie 911

What happens when you make it easier for hikers to be rescued if they get into trouble? Risky behavior increases, like more inexperienced hikers venturing into the wilderness - a clear example of moral hazard. This MSNBC article notes how inexperienced hikers abuse the use of personal locator beacons citing the case of two men and their teenage sons hiking the Grand Canyon's Royal Arch Loop. Over three days, they hit their panic button three times resulting in the mobilization of search and rescue personnel via helicopter (one of the "emergencies" was that their water tasted "too salty")

After being forced to evacuate after the third call, one of them noted that they would have never attempted the hike without the use of personal locator beacons. The abuse of these beacons has become common enough to have received its own descriptor: Yuppie 911.

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