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The Impact of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma on Business Establishments: A GIS Approach


  • Javier Miranda
  • Ron Jarmin


We use Geographic Information System tools to develop estimates of the economic impact of disaster events such as Hurricane Katrina. Our methodology relies on mapping establishments from the Census Bureau’s Business Register into damage zones defined by remote sensing information provided by FEMA. The identification of damaged establishments by precisely locating them on a map provides a far more accurate characterization of affected businesses than those typically reported from readily available county level data. The need for prompt estimates is critical since they are more valuable the sooner they are released after a catastrophic event. Our methodology is based on pre-storm data. Therefore, estimates can be made available very quickly to inform the public as well as policy makers. Robustness tests using data from after the storms indicate our GIS estimates, while much smaller than those based on publicly available county-level data, still overstate actual observed losses. We discuss ways to refine and augment the GIS approach to provide even more accurate estimates of the impact of disasters on businesses.

Suggested Citation

  • Javier Miranda & Ron Jarmin, 2006. "The Impact of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma on Business Establishments: A GIS Approach," Working Papers 06-23, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:06-23

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    File Function: First version, 2006
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steven J. Davis & John C. Haltiwanger & Scott Schuh, 1998. "Job Creation and Destruction," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262540932.
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    More about this item


    Natural Disaster; Economic Impact; Economic Activity; Business Register;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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