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Helping Displaced Workers Back Into Jobs After a Natural Disaster: Recent Experiences in OECD Countries


  • Danielle Venn



Large-scale natural disasters can have long-lasting effects on the labour market in affected areas in addition to their humanitarian and economic cost. Mass evacuations and disruptions to housing, transport, social services and infrastructure can impede labour market participation. Firms may need to lay off workers, permanently or temporarily, as they deal with physical damage and loss of customers. Even if employment levels return to their pre-disaster levels, the mix of jobs and workers may have changed, so that skills shortages coexist with relatively high unemployment rates. Governments have an important role to play in helping prevent unnecessary job losses, providing income support and re-employment assistance to displaced workers while they find new jobs and creating the environment to encourage job creation as the recovery takes hold. This paper examines the labour market impact of recent natural disasters in six OECD countries, outlines labour market and income support policies implemented to help those affected and discusses the challenges of implementing such policies in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Les catastrophes naturelles de grande ampleur peuvent avoir des effets durables sur le marché du travail dans les régions touchées, qui s’ajoutent à leur coût économique et humanitaire. Les évacuations de masse et la désorganisation du logement, des transports, des services sociaux et de l’infrastructure peuvent entraver l’activité sur le marché du travail. Les entreprises peuvent avoir à licencier des travailleurs, définitivement ou temporairement, pour cause de dégâts matériels et de perte de clientèle. Même si l’emploi retrouve ses niveaux d’avant la catastrophe, la composition de l’offre d’emplois et de maind’oeuvre peut avoir changé, ce qui peut se traduire simultanément par des pénuries de qualifications et des niveaux de chômage relativement élevés. Les autorités gouvernementales ont un rôle important à jouer pour aider à empêcher des pertes d’emplois inutiles, assurer aux travailleurs déplacés une garantie de revenu et une aide au retour à l’emploi, tout en trouvant de nouveaux emplois et en créant des conditions propices à la création d’emplois au fur et à mesure que la reprise se confirme. Ce document examine l’impact sur le marché du travail des catastrophes naturelles qui se sont produites récemment dans six pays de l’OCDE, expose dans leurs grandes lignes les politiques du marché du travail et de garantie de revenu mises en oeuvre pour venir en aide aux victimes, et examine les difficultés d’application de ces mesures au lendemain d’une catastrophe naturelle.

Suggested Citation

  • Danielle Venn, 2012. "Helping Displaced Workers Back Into Jobs After a Natural Disaster: Recent Experiences in OECD Countries," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 142, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaab:142-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Edmiston, Kelly D., 2017. "Financial Vulnerability and Personal Finance Outcomes of Natural Disasters," Research Working Paper RWP 17-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    2. Palmer, Carolyn, 2014. "'Flood and fire and famine': Tax policy lessons from the Australian responses to natural disasters," Working Paper Series 3718, Victoria University of Wellington, Chair in Public Finance.

    More about this item


    active labour market programme; displacement; natural disasters; unemployment benefits;

    JEL classification:

    • J08 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics Policies
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming


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