Boustan's paper is published in the July 2020 issue of the Journal of Urban Economics

July 29, 2020

Leah Boustan, Professor of Economics, published "The effect of natural disasters on economic activity in US counties: A century of data" in the July 2020 issue of the Journal of Urban Economics.


More than 100 natural disasters strike the United States every year, causing extensive fatalities and damages. We construct the universe of US federally designated natural disasters from 1920 to 2010. We find that severe disasters increase out-migration rates at the county level by 1.5 percentage points and lower housing prices/rents by 2.5–5.0 percent. The migration response to milder disasters is smaller but has been increasing over time. The economic response to disasters is most consistent with falling local productivity and labor demand. Disasters that convey more information about future disaster risk increase the pace of out-migration.

Cover of the Journal of Urban Economics