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The economics of natural disasters : concepts and methods

Author

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  • Hallegatte, Stephane
  • Przyluski, Valentin

Abstract

Large-scale disasters regularly affect societies over the globe, causing large destruction and damage. After each of these events, media, insurance companies, and international institu-tions publish numerous assessments of the"cost of the disaster."However these assessments are based on different methodologies and approaches, and they often reach different results. Besides methodological differences, these discrepancies are due to the multi-dimensionality in disaster impacts and their large redistributive effects, which make it unclear what is included in the estimates. But most importantly, the purpose of these assessments is rarely specified, although different purposes correspond to different perimeters of analysis and different definitions of what a cost is. To clarify this situation, this paper proposes a definition of the cost of a disaster, and emphasizes the most important mechanisms that explain and determine this cost. It does so by first explaining why the direct economic cost, that is, the value of what has been damaged or destroyed by the disaster, is not a sufficient indicator of disaster seriousness and why estimating indirect losses is crucial to assess the consequences on welfare. The paper describes the main indirect consequences of a disaster and the following reconstruction phase, and discusses the economic mechanisms at play. It proposes a review of available methodologies to assess indirect economic consequences, illustrated with examples from the literature. Finally, it highlights the need for a better understanding of the economics of natural disasters and suggests a few promising areas for research on this topic.

Suggested Citation

  • Hallegatte, Stephane & Przyluski, Valentin, 2010. "The economics of natural disasters : concepts and methods," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5507, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5507
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gaddis, Erica Brown & Miles, Brian & Morse, Stephanie & Lewis, Debby, 2007. "Full-cost accounting of coastal disasters in the United States: Implications for planning and preparedness," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2-3), pages 307-318, August.
    2. Dercon, Stefan, 2004. "Growth and shocks: evidence from rural Ethiopia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 309-329, August.
    3. Stéphane Hallegatte & Nicola Ranger & Olivier Mestre & Patrice Dumas & Jan Corfee-Morlot & Celine Herweijer & Robert Wood, 2011. "Assessing climate change impacts, sea level rise and storm surge risk in port cities: a case study on Copenhagen," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 104(1), pages 113-137, January.
    4. Eduardo Cavallo & Ilan Noy, 2009. "The Economics of Natural Disasters: A Survey," Research Department Publications 4649, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    5. Hallstrom, Daniel G. & Smith, V. Kerry, 2005. "Market responses to hurricanes," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 541-561, November.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Loayza, Norman V. & Olaberría, Eduardo & Rigolini, Jamele & Christiaensen, Luc, 2012. "Natural Disasters and Growth: Going Beyond the Averages," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(7), pages 1317-1336.
    2. Oscar Becerra & Eduardo Cavallo & Ilan Noy, 2014. "Foreign Aid in the Aftermath of Large Natural Disasters," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(3), pages 445-460, August.
    3. Safarzyńska, Karolina & Brouwer, Roy & Hofkes, Marjan, 2013. "Evolutionary modelling of the macro-economic impacts of catastrophic flood events," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 108-118.
    4. repec:pal:gpprii:v:42:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1057_s41288-016-0039-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Gröschl, Jasmin, 2014. "Naturally negative: The growth effects of natural disasters," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 92-106.
    6. Daoud, Adel & Halleröd, Björn & Guha Sapir, Debarati, 2015. "Quality of government and the relationship between natural disasters and child poverty: A comparative analysis," MPIfG Discussion Paper 15/5, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    7. Sebastian Poledna & Stefan Hochrainer-Stigler & Michael Gregor Miess & Peter Klimek & Stefan Schmelzer & Johannes Sorger & Elena Shchekinova & Elena Rovenskaya & JoAnne Linnerooth-Bayer & Ulf Dieckman, 2018. "When does a disaster become a systemic event? Estimating indirect economic losses from natural disasters," Papers 1801.09740, arXiv.org.
    8. Yasuyuki Todo & Kentaro Nakajima & Petr Matous, 2015. "How Do Supply Chain Networks Affect The Resilience Of Firms To Natural Disasters? Evidence From The Great East Japan Earthquake," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 209-229, March.
    9. Swenja Surminski & Paul Hudson & Jeroen Aerts & Wouter Botzen & M.Conceição Colaço & Florence Crick & Jill Eldridge & Anna Lorant & António Macedo & Reinhard Mechler & Carlos Neto & Robin Nicolai & Di, 2015. "Novel and improved insurance instruments for risk reduction," GRI Working Papers 188, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    10. Ouattara, Bazoumana & Strobl, Eric, 2013. "The fiscal implications of hurricane strikes in the Caribbean," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 105-115.
    11. Shyam KC, 2013. "Cost Benefit Studies on Disaster Risk Reduction in Developing Countries," World Bank Other Operational Studies 16111, The World Bank.
    12. Rayenda Brahmana & Chin hong Puah & Michael Chai, 2016. "Natural Disaster and Local Bank Non-Performing Loan: Case of Nias Tsunami 2004," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 36(4), pages 2413-2421.
    13. Nina Graveline & Marine Gremont, 2017. "Measuring and understanding the microeconomic resilience of businesses to lifeline service interruptions due to natural disasters," Post-Print hal-01631780, HAL.

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    Keywords

    Natural Disasters; Disaster Management; Economic Theory&Research; Hazard Risk Management; Climate Change Economics;

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