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Lightning, IT Diffusion, and Economic Growth Across U.S. States

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Author Info

  • Thomas Barnebeck Andersen

    (Department of Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark)

  • Jeanet Bentzen

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Carl-Johan Dalgaard

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Pablo Selaya

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

Empirically, a higher frequency of lightning strikes is associated with slower growth in labor productivity across the 48 contiguous U.S. states after 1990; before 1990, there is no correlation between growth and lightning. Other climate variables (e.g., temperature, rainfall, and tornadoes) do not conform to this pattern. A viable explanation is that lightning influences IT diffusion. By causing voltage spikes and dips, a higher frequency of ground strikes leads to damaged digital equipment and thus higher IT user costs. Accordingly, the flash density (strikes per square kilometer per year) should adversely affect the speed of IT diffusion. We find that lightning indeed seems to have slowed IT diffusion, conditional on standard controls. Hence, an increasing macroeconomic sensitivity to lightning may be due to the increasing importance of digital technologies for the growth process. © 2012 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 94 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 903-924

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:94:y:2012:i:4:p:903-924

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Keywords: climate; lightning; IT diffusion; economic growth; United States;

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References

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  1. Dale W. Jorgenson, 2001. "Information Technology and the U.S. Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 1-32, March.
  2. Robert J. Barro, 2013. "Inflation and Economic Growth," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(1), pages 121-144, May.
  3. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2001. "Cross-Country Technology Diffusion: The Case of Computers," NBER Working Papers 8130, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Rodrik, Dani & Subramanian, Arvind & Trebbi, Francesco, 2002. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 3643, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. Melissa Dell & Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2008. "Climate Change and Economic Growth: Evidence from the Last Half Century," NBER Working Papers 14132, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," NBER Working Papers 17037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer & Vollrath, Dietrich, 2008. "Inequality in Land Ownership, the Emergence of Human Capital Promoting Institutions and the Great Divergence," CEPR Discussion Papers 6751, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  12. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 8460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Stanley L Engerman & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development Among New World Economics," NBER Working Papers 9259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Areendam Chanda & Bibhudutta Panda, . "Unbalanced Productivity Growth in US States: Evidence from Factor Prices," Departmental Working Papers 2012-04, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
  2. Andersen, Thomas Barnebeck & Dalgaard, Carl-Johan, 2013. "Power outages and economic growth in Africa," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 19-23.
  3. Areendam Chanda & Bibhudutta Panda, . "Productivity Growth in Goods and Services across US States: What can We Learn from Factor Prices?," Departmental Working Papers 2011-16, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.

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