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Adjusting to natural disasters


  • V. Smith


  • Jared Carbone
  • Jaren Pope
  • Daniel Hallstrom
  • Michael Darden


People adjust to the risks presented by natural disasters in a number of ways; they can move out of harms way, they can self protect, or they can insure. This paper uses Hurricane Andrew, the largest U.S. natural disaster prior to Katrina, to evaluate how people and housing markets respond to a large disaster. Our analysis combines a unique ex post database on the storm’s damage along with information from the 1990 and 2000 Censuses in Dade County, Florida where the storm hit. The results suggest that the economic capacity of households to adjust explains most of the differences in demographic groups’ patterns of adjustment to the hurricane damage. Low income households respond primarily by moving into low-rent housing in areas that experienced heavy damage. Middle income households move away to avoid risk, and the wealthy, for whom insurance and self-protection are most affordable, appear to remain. This pattern of adjustment with respect to income is roughly mean neutral, so an analysis based on measures of central tendency such as median income would miss these important adjustments. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

Suggested Citation

  • V. Smith & Jared Carbone & Jaren Pope & Daniel Hallstrom & Michael Darden, 2006. "Adjusting to natural disasters," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 37-54, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:33:y:2006:i:1:p:37-54 DOI: 10.1007/s11166-006-0170-0

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. repec:spr:nathaz:v:87:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11069-017-2763-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Carolyn Kousky, 2010. "Learning from Extreme Events: Risk Perceptions after the Flood," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 86(3).
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    5. Kousky, Carolyn, 2012. "Informing Climate Adaptation: A Review of the Economic Costs of Natural Disasters, Their Determinants, and Risk Reduction Options," Discussion Papers dp-12-28, Resources For the Future.
    6. Jacqueline Volkman-Wise, 2015. "Representativeness and managing catastrophe risk," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 267-290, December.
    7. Kousky, Carolyn, 2014. "Informing climate adaptation: A review of the economic costs of natural disasters," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 576-592.
    8. Edward B. Barbier, 2016. "The Protective Value of Estuarine and Coastal Ecosystem Services in a Wealth Accounting Framework," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 64(1), pages 37-58, May.
    9. Fan, Qin & Davlasheridze, Meri, 2014. "Evaluating the Effectiveness of Flood Mitigation Policies in the U.S," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 169399, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
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    11. Daniel Sutter & Marc Poitras, 2010. "Do people respond to low probability risks? Evidence from tornado risk and manufactured homes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 181-196, April.
    12. Sam Fankhauser, 2016. "Adaptation to climate change," GRI Working Papers 255, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
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    14. Solomon M. Hsiang & Amir S. Jina, 2014. "The Causal Effect of Environmental Catastrophe on Long-Run Economic Growth: Evidence From 6,700 Cyclones," NBER Working Papers 20352, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    16. Meri Davlasheridze & Qin Fan, 2017. "Household Adjustments to Hurricane Katrina," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 47(1), pages 92-112, Winter.
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    19. Ferris, Jeffrey S. & Newburn, David A., 2017. "Wireless alerts for extreme weather and the impact on hazard mitigating behavior," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 239-255.
    20. Thomas Gries & Natasa Bilkic, 2014. "Investment under Threat of Disaster," Working Papers CIE 77, Paderborn University, CIE Center for International Economics.
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    23. Robert Meyer, 2012. "Failing to learn from experience about catastrophes: The case of hurricane preparedness," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 25-50, August.
    24. Eskander, Shaikh M.S.U. & Fankhauser, Samuel & Jha, Shikha, 2016. "Do Natural Disasters Change Savings and Employment Choices? Evidence from Bangladesh and Pakistan," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 505, Asian Development Bank.
    25. Leah Platt Boustan & Matthew E. Kahn & Paul W. Rhode & Maria Lucia Yanguas, 2017. "The Effect of Natural Disasters on Economic Activity in US Counties: A Century of Data," NBER Working Papers 23410, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.


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