What is 'risk compensation behavior' that the risk increases even if safety is emphasized?

The idea that 'even if the risk is reduced with an emphasis on safety, the user takes high-risk behavior to make up for the reduced risk, and the overall risk level does not change' is called ' risk compensation behavior '. Says. News site Slate explains this risk compensation behavior.

Risk compensation: The dangerous theory that got everything from bike helmets to vaccines wrong.

Risk compensation behavior attracted attention in the United States during the discussion of traffic safety measures in the 1970s. The concept of risk-compensating behavior itself was proposed in the 1940s, and while safety measures to reduce the surge in traffic accidents were being discussed, 'If you design roads and cars more safely, you will drive dangerously. There was a concern that it would end up, but it was not strictly verified.

And in 1975, Sam Peltzman, an economist at the University of Chicago, said, 'The mandatory seatbelt requirement in the United States in the 1960s encouraged inadvertent driving, which in turn reduced traffic safety. We announced the risk compensation behavior hypothesis.

'The new regulations offset safety benefits, and analysis of pre- and post-regulation road accident data not only does not reduce fatal accidents, but also increases the number of fatalities from post-regulation road accidents,' said Peltzmann. 'We were doing it,' he said, 'traffic safety measures could increase the number of fatalities from road accidents.' Mr. Peltzmann's findings were a major boost to the anti-safety regulations that existed in the 1970s.

However, subsequent analysis revealed that Peltzmann's work was error-prone. Not only did Peltzmann's theory show that he couldn't predict road mortality, but he also found that he hadn't even done a rudimentary check on his theory. Also, looking at traffic data over the long term, there is no doubt that safety regulations have reduced traffic fatalities. However, the idea that 'safety regulations reduce safety' has come to be advocated by factions that deny traffic safety measures.

One example is motorcycle helmet regulation. In 1975, when Mr. Peltzmann's paper was published, American motorcycle groups were lobbying against regulations, saying that 'mandatory helmet wearing violates personal freedom', but Mr. Peltzmann With the popularity of this paper, the abolition of the obligation to wear a helmet became the mainstream idea. Some have argued that wearing a helmet increases the likelihood of neck injuries, and 29 states have abolished the obligation to wear a helmet.

However, as a result of the abolition, the number of deaths from motorcycles has naturally increased sharply. Also, it seems that the number of fatalities due to accidents has increased in skis and bicycles as well. After all, a search of all research data and literature reveals that 'helmets save lives.'

So why does the concept of 'risk-compensating behavior' still exist today, says Slate, 'because it's a very effective political rhetoric.' For example, political economist Albert O. Hirschman called risk-compensation behavior 'perversity thesis' in his book 'Rules of Reaction: Reversal, Uselessness, and Danger' and 'Problems.' Well-meaning rules and regulations to solve the problem will ultimately exacerbate the problem. ' 'Giving money to the poor, they simply spend money on waste and exacerbate their predicament.' 'Approving oral contraceptives can threaten modern sexual ethics.' In addition, risk compensation behavior was often used as a 'political rhetoric to effectively promote the status quo.'

Slate argues that risk-compensation behavior has also had a significant impact on the global epidemic of the new coronavirus. For example, one of the reasons why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) did not strongly promote the use of masks during a pandemic was that the CDC and WHO did not trust the public and said, ' Slate points out that by wearing a mask, people would go out, not keep a social distance, and neglect to wash their hands. '

Slate says, 'The key to traffic safety, sexual activity and public health issues is not whether we change our behavior according to the risks perceived by individuals, but whether we make the world a safer and better place at the collective level. In the case of masks, it clearly suppresses the spread of the new coronavirus. In policy making, it is not necessary to understand the subtle psychological states of individual humans. '

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