Imagine that your department is about to build a new building. Because the area is seismically active, you raise the issue of earthquake-resistant construction when meeting with the architect and engineer. They tell you to decide on the level of seismic safety you want, and they will provide it. The more safety you want, however, the more it will cost.

Thus you have to decide how much of the construction budget to put into seismic safety. The more you spend, the better off you will be in a future large earthquake. You are worse off in the intervening years, however,...

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