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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, Revised in June 2019
NBER Program(s):Program on the Development of the American Economy, Environment and Energy Program

More than 100 natural disasters strike the United States every year, causing extensive property destruction and loss of life. We construct an 80 year panel data set that includes the universe of natural disasters in the United States from 1930 to 2010 and study how these shocks affected migration rates, home prices, and poverty rates at the county level. Severe disasters increased out-migration rates by 1.5 percentage points and lowered housing prices/rents by 2.5–5.0 percent, but milder disasters had little effect on economic outcomes.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23410

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