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Do natural disasters cause an excessive fear of heights? Evidence from the Wenchuan earthquake

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  • Deng, Guoying
  • Gan, Li
  • Hernandez, Manuel A.

Abstract

This paper uses the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in China to examine if the occurrence of a natural disaster can cause an excessive fear of living in upper floors. We rely on potential variations in earthquake risk perceptions by floor level to assess whether the pricing of apartments in lower versus upper floors is consistent with a disproportionate fear of heights. We use a unique transaction dataset for new apartment units in the affected area. We find that the relative price of low to high floor units, particularly units located in the first and second floor, considerably increased for several months after the earthquake and then returned back to the levels observed prior to the tremor. This temporal increase in relative prices is in line with a higher risk perception and fear, triggered after the earthquake, of living in upper floors, which gradually dissipated over time. The results are robust to alternative model estimations.

Suggested Citation

  • Deng, Guoying & Gan, Li & Hernandez, Manuel A., 2015. "Do natural disasters cause an excessive fear of heights? Evidence from the Wenchuan earthquake," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 79-89.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:90:y:2015:i:c:p:79-89
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jue.2015.10.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Steve Gibbons & Stephan Heblich & Esther Lho & Christopher Timmins, 2016. "Fear of Fracking? The Impact of the Shale Gas Exploration on House Prices in Britain," SERC Discussion Papers 0207, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    2. Marco Modica & Roberto Zoboli & Fabrizio Meroni & Vera Pessina & Thea Squarcina & Mario Locati, 2016. "Housing Market Response to 2012 Northern Italy Earthquake: The role of house quality and changing risk perception," SEEDS Working Papers 0416, SEEDS, Sustainability Environmental Economics and Dynamics Studies, revised Apr 2016.
    3. Zhu, Hongjia & Deng, Yongheng & Zhu, Rong & He, Xiaobo, 2016. "Fear of nuclear power? Evidence from Fukushima nuclear accident and land markets in China," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 139-154.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fear of heights; Earthquake risks; Housing market; Wenchuan;

    JEL classification:

    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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