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Assessing the macroeconomic impacts of natural disasters : are there any ?

  • Hochrainer, Stefan
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    There is an ongoing debate on whether disasters cause significant macroeconomic impacts and are truly a potential impediment to economic development. This paper aims to assess whether and by what mechanisms disasters have the potential to cause significant GDP impacts. The analysis first studies the counterfactual versus the observed gross domestic product. Second, the analysis assesses disaster impacts as a function of hazard, exposure of assets, and, importantly, vulnerability. In a medium-term analysis (up to 5 years after the disaster event), comparing counterfactual with observed gross domestic product, the authors find that natural disasters on average can lead to negative consequences. Although the negative effects may be small, they can become more pronounced depending mainly on the size of the shock. Furthermore, the authors test a large number of vulnerability predictors and find that greater aid and inflows of remittances reduce adverse macroeconomic consequences, and that direct losses appear most critical.

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    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4968.

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    Date of creation: 01 Jun 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4968
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    1. Jose Miguel Albala-Bertrand, 2006. "The Unlikeliness of an Economic Catastrophe: Localization & Globalization," Working Papers 576, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
    2. Tilak Abeysinghe & Gulasekaran Rajaguru, 2003. "Quarterly Real GDP Estimates for China and ASEAN4 with a Forecast Evaluation," Departmental Working Papers wp0404, National University of Singapore, Department of Economics.
    3. Albala-Bertrand, J. M., 1993. "Political Economy of Large Natural Disasters: With Special Reference to Developing Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198287650, March.
    4. Noy, Ilan, 2009. "The macroeconomic consequences of disasters," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 221-231, March.
    5. 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.
    6. Raddatz, Claudio, 2007. "Are external shocks responsible for the instability of output in low-income countries?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 155-187, September.
    7. Mark Skidmore & Hideki Toya, 2002. "Do Natural Disasters Promote Long-Run Growth?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(4), pages 664-687, October.
    8. Céline Charvériat, 2000. "Natural Disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean: An Overview of Risk," Research Department Publications 4233, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
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