The Effect of Natural Disasters on Economic Activity in Us Counties: A Century of Data
61 Pages Posted: 18 May 2017 Last revised: 20 Jun 2021
Date Written: May 2017
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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