NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Effect of Natural Disasters on Economic Activity in US Counties: A Century of Data

Leah Platt Boustan, Matthew E. Kahn, Paul W. Rhode, Maria Lucia Yanguas

NBER Working Paper No. 23410
Issued in May 2017
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy, Environment and Energy Economics

Major natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy cause numerous fatalities, and destroy property and infrastructure. In any year, the U.S experiences dozens of smaller natural disasters as well. We construct a 90 year panel data set that includes the universe of natural disasters in the United States from 1920 to 2010. By exploiting spatial and temporal variation, we study how these shocks affected migration rates, home prices and local poverty rates. The most severe disasters increase out migration rates and lower housing prices, especially in areas at particular risk of disaster activity, but milder disasters have little effect.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23410

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