The Economic Impacts of Terrorist Attacks
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The Economic Impacts of Terrorist Attacks

Edited by Harry W. Richardson, Peter Gordon and James E. Moore II

Focussing on the economics of terrorism in the post 9/11 world, this book brings together original research based on the collaborative efforts of leading economists and planners. The authoritative and expert contributors use a variety of methodological approaches and apply them to different types of terrorist attacks (on airports, highways, seaports, electric power infrastructure, for example).
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Chapter 7: Current and Improved Biodefense Cost–Benefit Assessment

Clark C. Abt


7. Current and improved biodefense cost–benefit assessment Clark C. Abt INTRODUCTION This chapter makes three essential points: (1) under current conditions of inadequate US biodefenses, a single catastrophic bioterrorist attack can kill more people than any single nuclear terrorist attack; (2) catastrophic bioterrorist attacks are difficult to deter or defend against, but their risks of massive potential fatalities can be prevented and mitigated by scientifically feasible, economically affordable, and politically acceptable means; and (3) cost–benefit assessment of improved biodefenses as described show a dual net benefit of at least an order-of-magnitude reduction in deaths and damages and additional peacetime public health benefits to protect against natural deadly epidemics for an annual investment of less than the $10 billion. This compares with the amount currently invested in ballistic missile defense, a much smaller and less likely threat. Cost–benefit assessments are considered for improved biodefenses against three catastrophic bioterrorist attacks on the most valuable and vulnerable urban transport centers (New York, Washington, DC and Los Angeles). Potential economic and loss of life costs of the three most catastrophic types of bioterrorist attacks (smallpox, plague and anthrax) are estimated from realistic scenarios for current and near-future improved biodefenses. Deaths from a current potential mass bioattack on US cities range from 500 000 to 30 million people; economic damage ranges from $200 billion into trillions. The median and the range of deaths and damages of a catastrophic bioterrorist attack on any large city...

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