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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 2020
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy, Environment and Energy Economics

More than 100 natural disasters strike the United States every year, causing extensive fatalities and damages. We construct the universe of US federally designated natural disasters from 1920 to 2010. We find that severe disasters increase out-migration rates at the county level by 1.5 percentage points and lower housing prices/rents by 2.5–5.0 percent. The migration response to milder disasters is smaller but has been increasing over time. The economic response to disasters is most consistent with falling local productivity and labor demand. Disasters that convey more information about future disaster risk increase the pace of out-migration.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23410

Published: Leah Platt Boustan & Matthew E. Kahn & Paul W. Rhode & Maria Lucia Yanguas, 2020. "The Effect of Natural Disasters on Economic Activity in US Counties: A Century of Data," Journal of Urban Economics, . citation courtesy of

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