Aggregate Impacts of Natural and Man-made Disasters: A quantitative comparison
In recent decades, the world has faced an increasing number of natural and man-made disasters. Such disasters include tsunamis, earthquakes, the current ongoing financial crisis, terrorism, riots, and wars. These disasters generate tremendous social and economic costs, especially for the poor in low income economies. This paper assesses and compares the impacts of various natural and man-made disasters quantitatively. We carefully construct cross-country panel data of 189 countries within the range between 1968 to 2001 on a wide variety of natural disasters such as hydro-meteorological, geophysical, climatological, technological and biological disasters as well as man-made disasters such as economic crises, civil conflicts and wars. The paper employs this unique panel dataset to estimate econometric models which enable us to quantify and compare the impacts of different natural and man-made disasters on welfare as captured by per capita consumption. According to our estimation results, in the short term, natural disasters generate the largest negative welfare impacts which are followed by wars and economic disasters. Intriguingly, in the long term, natural disasters and wars have positive impacts on per capita GDP growth. Wars affect large economies more than small economies while natural disasters affect small economies disproportionately.
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