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Does development reduce fatalities from natural disasters? New evidence for floods

Susana Ferreira, Kirk Hamilton and Jeffrey Vincent ()

Environment and Development Economics, 2013, vol. 18, issue 6, 649-679

Abstract: We analyze the impact of development on flood fatalities using a new data set of 2,171 large floods in 92 countries between 1985 and 2008. Our results challenge the conventional wisdom that development results in fewer fatalities during natural disasters. Results indicating that higher income and better governance reduce fatalities during flood events do not hold up when unobserved country heterogeneity and within-country correlation of standard errors are taken into account. We find that income does have a significant, indirect effect on flood fatalities by affecting flood frequency and flood magnitude, but this effect is nonmonotonic, with net reductions in fatalities occurring only in lower income countries. We find little evidence that improved governance affects flood fatalities either directly or indirectly.

Date: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cup:endeec:v:18:y:2013:i:06:p:649-679_00