Leaving home ain’t easy: Citizen compliance with local government hurricane evacuation orders

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Jennifer M. Connolly
Casey Klofstad
Joseph Uscinski

Keywords

Government orders, Policy implementation, Local government, Natural disasters, Citizen compliance

Abstract

Although local officials often issue policy directives and urge residents to comply, many policy directives lack monitoring or enforcement mechanisms. Without strong enforcement mechanisms, how can public officials increase citizen cooperation? We examine this question in the context of hurricane evacuation orders. Do different communication frames impact public compliance with evacuation orders? Analyzing data on Florida residents, the results of a survey experiment show that respondents exposed to a statement lacking certainty were significantly less willing to evacuate than the control group, and other communication strategies-including describing incentives and potential enforcement mechanisms-had no impact on willingness to cooperate with an evacuation order. The results suggest that uncertain government messaging may decrease policy compliance in cases lacking strong enforcement mechanisms.