Research Summary

Risk Management as a Function of Government

by David A. Moss


Professor Moss's academic work in this area explores how and why governments manage private-sector risks. Based on historical and institutional research, he argues that risk management constitutes a critical function of government with far-reaching implications. Some examples of risk management policy include limited liability law, bankruptcy discharge, deposit insurance, workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, old-age insurance, federal disaster relief, disability insurance, workplace safety regulations, and product liability law. Although these policies serve an extremely wide variety of social objectives, the essential vehicle in each case is risk management. That is, all of these policies (and numerous others) achieve their objectives either by shifting, spreading, or directly reducing risk. In order to develop a better understanding of why governments manage risk and under what circumstances, Moss has begun charting the history of public risk management in the United States. He considers why the major risk management policies were enacted, what economic functions they were designed to serve, and, more broadly, how risk management policy has developed over time. At root, this line of research explores the fundamental role and evolution of government risk management in a modern capitalist economy.