Necessity as the Mother of Invention: Innovative Responses to Natural Disasters

Qing Miao, David Popp

NBER Working Paper No. 19223
Issued in July 2013
NBER Program(s):   EEE   PR

How do innovators respond to the shock of a natural disaster? Do natural disasters spur technical innovations that can reduce the risk of future hazards? This paper examines the impact of three types of natural disasters including earthquakes, droughts and flooding on the innovation of their respective mitigation technologies. Using patent and disaster data, our study is the first to relate natural disasters to technology innovation, and also presents the first attempt to empirically examine adaptation responses to climate change across multiple sectors at the country level. Overall, we show that natural disasters lead to more risk-mitigating innovations, while the degree of influence varies across different types of disasters and technologies.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19223

Published: Journal of Environmental Economics and Management Volume 68, Issue 2, September 2014, Pages 280–295 Cover image Necessity as the mother of invention: Innovative responses to natural disasters Qing Miaoa, , , David Poppa, b, 1

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