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Catastrophic Natural Disasters and Economic Growth

  • Eduardo A. Cavallo
  • Ilan Noy
  • Juan Pantano
  • Sebastián Galiani

This paper examines the short and long-run average causal impact of catastrophic natural disasters on economic growth by combining information from comparative case studies. The counterfactual of the cases studied is assessed by constructing synthetic control groups, taking advantage of the fact that the timing of large sudden natural disasters is an exogenous event. It is found that only extremely large disasters have a negative effect on output, both in the short and long run. However, this result appears in two events where radical political revolutions followed the natural disasters. Once these political changes are controlled for, even extremely large disasters do not display any significant effect on economic growth. It is also found that smaller, but still very large natural disasters, have no discernible effect on output.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank in its series IDB Publications (Working Papers) with number 6818.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
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Handle: RePEc:idb:brikps:6818
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  1. Caballero, Ricardo J & Hammour, Mohamad L, 1994. "The Cleansing Effect of Recessions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1350-68, December.
  2. Raddatz, Claudio, 2005. "Are external shocks responsible for the instability of output in low income countries?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3680, The World Bank.
  3. Eduardo A. Cavallo & Ilan Noy, 2009. "The Economics of Natural Disasters: A Survey," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6779, Inter-American Development Bank.
  4. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A., 2005. "Institutions as a Fundamental Cause of Long-Run Growth," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 385-472 Elsevier.
  5. Ilan Noy, 2007. "The Macroeconomic Consequences of Disasters," Working Papers 200707, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
  6. Yang Dean, 2008. "Coping with Disaster: The Impact of Hurricanes on International Financial Flows, 1970-2002," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-45, June.
  7. Matthew E. Kahn, 2005. "The Death Toll from Natural Disasters: The Role of Income, Geography, and Institutions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 271-284, May.
  8. Barro, Robert, 2006. "Rare Disasters and Asset Markets in the Twentieth Century," Scholarly Articles 3208215, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1990. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Abadie, Alberto & Diamond, Alexis & Hainmueller, Jens, 2010. "Synthetic Control Methods for Comparative Case Studies: Estimating the Effect of California’s Tobacco Control Program," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 105(490), pages 493-505.
  11. Robert J. Barro, 2009. "Rare Disasters, Asset Prices, and Welfare Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 243-64, March.
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