How Natural Disasters Make Entire Counties Poorer


| 7/19/2017 10:37:00 AM


 

It’s no secret that areas affected by natural disasters such as hurricanes deal with damages that can total billions of dollars. However, recent long-term research indicates that natural disasters have a much greater impact than the initial financial ones caused by the damage.

As a team of scientists discovered when they looked at a database of information from 1920 to 2010, natural disasters adversely affect the wealth of entire counties.

The Risk Level Varies by Geographic Location

Because the United States is so large compared to some other countries, certain parts of it are more prone to experiencing natural disasters. For example, low-lying and coastal areas are at a greater risk than places at higher elevations. Also, some disasters strike regions more often than others. Hurricanes batter coastal areas, and the Midwest has frequent tornadoes. Regions such as New England endure harsh winter storms. In comparison, the West has fewer disasters, but California is an exception because it often experiences drought periods, earthquakes and wildfires.

Natural Disasters Increase Migration and Poverty

The way some parts of the country are less likely to get hit with certain kinds of natural disasters is linked to increased migration levels. Research showed that after a county had dealt with two natural disasters, those events triggered wealthier people to move out of the vicinity and go to places that were calmer regarding natural disasters.



Migration increased by one percentage point, or approximately 600 people per county, following those two disastrous occasions. Furthermore, when a disaster killed 100 individuals or more, it made migration go up twice as much. The research team also pinpointed a more disturbing trend related to poverty. Their data showed that in areas that went through extremely severe disasters, the amount of poverty went up by one percent.



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