Necessity as the Mother of Invention: Innovative Responses to Natural Disasters
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.
This work was supported by DOE grant #DE-SC0005171. We thank Stephane Hallegatte and seminar participants at Carnegie Mellon and the Oslo Centre for Research on Environmentally friendly Energy for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
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