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The Dynamic Effects of Hurricanes in the US: The Role of Non-Disaster Transfer Payments

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  • Tatyana Deryugina

Abstract

We know little about the dynamic economic impacts of natural disasters. I examine the effect of hurricanes on US counties’ economies 0-10 years after landfall. Overall, I find no substantial changes in county population, earnings, or the employment rate. The largest empirical effect of a hurricane is observed in large increases in government transfer payments to individuals, such as unemployment insurance. The estimated magnitude of the extra transfer payments is large. While per capita disaster aid averages $356 per hurricane in current dollars, I estimate that in the eleven years following a hurricane an affected county receives additional non-disaster government transfers of $67 per capita per year. Private insurance-related transfers over the same time period average only $2:4 per capita per year. These results suggest that a non-trivial portion of the negative impact of hurricanes is absorbed by existing social safety net programs. The fiscal costs of natural disasters are thus much larger than the cost of disaster aid alone. Because of the deadweight loss of taxation and moral hazard concerns, the benefits of policies that reduce disaster vulnerability, such as climate change mitigation and removal of insurance subsidies, are larger than previously thought. Finally, the substantial increase in non-disaster transfers suggests that the relative resilience of the United States to natural disasters may be in part due to various social safety nets.

Suggested Citation

  • Tatyana Deryugina, 2011. "The Dynamic Effects of Hurricanes in the US: The Role of Non-Disaster Transfer Payments," Working Papers 1107, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:mee:wpaper:1107
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    Cited by:

    1. Leah Platt Boustan & Matthew E. Kahn & Paul W. Rhode, 2012. "Moving to Higher Ground: Migration Response to Natural Disasters in the Early Twentieth Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 238-244, May.
    2. Solomon M. Hsiang & Amir S. Jina, 2014. "The Causal Effect of Environmental Catastrophe on Long-Run Economic Growth: Evidence From 6,700 Cyclones," NBER Working Papers 20352, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Martino Pelli & Jeanne Tschopp, 2014. "Hurricanes Revisited : Comparative Advantage as a Source of Heterogeneity," Cahiers de recherche 14-09, Departement d'Economique de l'École de gestion à l'Université de Sherbrooke.
    4. Leah Platt Boustan & Matthew E. Kahn & Paul W. Rhode & Maria Lucia Yanguas, 2017. "The Effect of Natural Disasters on Economic Activity in US Counties: A Century of Data," NBER Working Papers 23410, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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