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Flooded cities

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  • Kocornik-Mina, Adriana
  • McDermott, Thomas K.J.
  • Michaels, Guy
  • Rauch, Ferdinand

Abstract

Does economic activity relocate away from areas that are at high risk of recurring shocks? We examine this question in the context of floods, which are among the costliest and most common natural disasters. Over the past thirty years, floods worldwide killed more than 500,000 people and displaced over 650,000,000 people. This paper analyzes the effect of large scale floods, which displaced at least 100,000 people each, in over 1,800 cities in 40 countries, from 2003-2008. We conduct our analysis using spatially detailed inundation maps and night lights data spanning the globe's urban areas. We find that low elevation areas are about 3-4 times more likely to be hit by large floods than other areas, and yet they concentrate more economic activity per square kilometre. When cities are hit by large floods, the low elevation areas also sustain more damage, but like the rest of the flooded cities they recover rapidly, and economic activity does not move to safer areas. Only in more recently populated urban areas, flooded areas show a larger and more persistent decline in economic activity. Our findings have important policy implications for aid, development and urban planning in a world with rising urbanization and sea levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Kocornik-Mina, Adriana & McDermott, Thomas K.J. & Michaels, Guy & Rauch, Ferdinand, 2015. "Flooded cities," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 66061, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:66061
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Urbanization; flooding; climate change; urban recovery;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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