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Impact of Natural Disasters on Production Networks and Urbanization in New Zealand


  • Brent LAYTON

    (The Electricity Authority, New Zealand)


New Zealand’s history of natural disasters and its vulnerability to various types of disaster are outlined briefly. A summary description of the country’s arrangements for preparing for natural disasters and managing the response to, and recovery from, them is provided. The series of earthquakes that affected Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city, between September 2010 and early 2012 is considered as a case study. The direct and indirect tangible costs of the events are estimated as $NZ 30.9 billion (approximately $US24.5billion), or 15.8% of the country’s GDP, on a replacement cost basis. Approximately 78% of this cost will be covered by insurance. On a depreciated replacement cost basis the damage is estimated at $NZ18.7 billion. The significant effects of the events on the population, labor market, reported crime, urbanization and location of businesses and production of the region are also described. The case study suggests that New Zealand’s arrangements for natural disasters worked well in most regards. The case study also highlights the advantage of international co-operation in the response to natural disasters. It also suggests that while high rates and levels of disaster insurance ameliorate the financial impact, they can complicate achieving effective recovery. This is because insurance funds increase the alternatives available to the affected population and investors in respect of reinvestment and rebuilding the damaged region. The lag before insurers will accept new risks can also create delays and impede the momentum to recovery. The final section of the paper draws from New Zealand’s recent disaster experience in Christchurch to present some policy recommendations relevant to New Zealand and the East Asia region.

Suggested Citation

  • Brent LAYTON, 2013. "Impact of Natural Disasters on Production Networks and Urbanization in New Zealand," Working Papers DP-2013-13, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
  • Handle: RePEc:era:wpaper:dp-2013-13

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stéphane Hallegatte & Valentin Przyluski, 2010. "The Economics of Natural Disasters," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 11(2), pages 14-24, July.
    2. Loayza, Norman V. & Olaberría, Eduardo & Rigolini, Jamele & Christiaensen, Luc, 2012. "Natural Disasters and Growth: Going Beyond the Averages," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(7), pages 1317-1336.
    3. Melecky, Martin & Raddatz, Claudio, 2011. "How do governments respond after catastrophes ? natural-disaster shocks and the fiscal stance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5564, The World Bank.
    4. Lopez, Ramon, 2009. "Natural disasters and the dynamics of intangible assets," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4874, The World Bank.
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    More about this item


    Natural disasters; Monitoring; rescue; Recovery; Earthquakes; New Zealand; Christchurch earthquakes; Economic impact; Costs; Disaster insurance; East Asian regional co-operation;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission
    • O56 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Oceania

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