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

61 Pages Posted: 18 May 2017 Last revised: 22 May 2017

See all articles by Leah Platt Boustan

Leah Platt Boustan

Princeton University

Matthew E. Kahn

University of Southern California; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Paul W. Rhode

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Maria Lucia Yanguas

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Date Written: May 2017

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Boustan, Leah Platt and Kahn, Matthew E. and Rhode, Paul W. and Yanguas, Maria Lucia, The Effect of Natural Disasters on Economic Activity in Us Counties: A Century of Data (May 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23410, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2968248

Leah Platt Boustan (Contact Author)

Princeton University ( email )

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Matthew E. Kahn

University of Southern California ( email )

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Los Angeles, CA 90089
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Paul W. Rhode

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

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Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Maria Lucia Yanguas

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

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Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

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