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How Big Are the Benefits of Economic Diversification? Evidence from Earthquakes


  • Rodney Ramcharan


Economic activity is risky. Returns across economic sectors can be highly variable, potentially causing costly adjustments to consumption. However, when returns are imperfectly correlated across sectors and insurance is unavailable, diversification can reduce the economic impact of shocks. Therefore, despite the well-known efficiency benefits from specialization, the risks of too little diversification have long been acknowledged. But how big are the benefits of diversification? This paper exploits the exogeneity and randomness of earthquakes to address this question. There is robust evidence that more specialized economies experience larger declines in consumption when earthquakes occur, and consistent with the insurance channel, the cost of specialization is smaller in more financially developed economies.

Suggested Citation

  • Rodney Ramcharan, 2005. "How Big Are the Benefits of Economic Diversification? Evidence from Earthquakes," IMF Working Papers 05/48, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:05/48

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Bekaert, Geert & Harvey, Campbell R. & Lundblad, Christian, 2006. "Growth volatility and financial liberalization," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 370-403, April.
    8. Kalemli-Ozcan, Sebnem & Sorensen, Bent E. & Yosha, Oved, 2001. "Economic integration, industrial specialization, and the asymmetry of macroeconomic fluctuations," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 107-137, October.
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    11. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Monica Escaleras & Nejat Anbarci & Charles Register, 2006. "Public Sector Corruption and Natural Disasters: A Potentially Deadly Interaction," Working Papers 06005, Department of Economics, College of Business, Florida Atlantic University, revised Aug 2006.
    2. Chowdhury, Mohammad Tarequl H. & Bhattacharya, Prasad Sankar & Mallick, Debdulal & Ulubaşoğlu, Mehmet Ali, 2014. "An empirical inquiry into the role of sectoral diversification in exchange rate regime choice," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 210-227.
    3. Nicole Laframboise & Boileau Loko, 2012. "Natural Disasters; Mitigating Impact, Managing Risks," IMF Working Papers 12/245, International Monetary Fund.


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