Put up-disaster insurance policies expose extra individuals to catastrophe dangers


Many nations present aid funding to handle the unfavorable affect of catastrophic occasions on the native inhabitants and economic system. Within the US, the Catastrophe Reduction Fund operated by the Federal Administration Emergency Company (FEMA) serves this goal. Between 2001 and 2019, the US federal authorities offered $296 billion in catastrophe aid for catastrophic occasions. 

But, persons are not shifting away from hazard-prone areas. Between 2000 and 2020, counties struck by main hurricanes skilled a outstanding inhabitants improve of 27.4%; compared, the continental US coastal inhabitants grew by solely 14.9%.

Put up-disaster programmes are a very salient coverage matter for a lot of political candidates when giant disasters happen amid an electoral marketing campaign. Nonetheless, there’s a trade-off between offering reliable help to affected populations and inspiring extra individuals and capital to stay in hazardous areas.

In a latest paper (Henkel et al. 2022), we establish the affect of the electoral cycle on native post-disaster efforts and the implications on the spatial distribution of financial actions within the US. To this finish, we exploit the timing of hurricane landings relative to Election Day as an exogenous variation of pure disasters with better electoral significance.1 Determine 1 shows the spatial distribution of hurricanes occurring lower than a 12 months earlier than Election Day (i.e. ‘on-cycle’ hurricanes) and hurricanes occurring greater than a 12 months earlier than Election Day (i.e. ‘off-cycle’ hurricanes).

Determine 1 Geography of on- vs off-cycle hurricanes, 2001–2019

Our empirical findings utilizing county-level knowledge between 2001 and 2019 are as follows. We use a versatile event-study method to analyse the native responses in counties affected by ‘on-cycle’ and ‘off-cycle’ hurricanes. In our most well-liked specification, we examine handled to not-yet handled models. To account for the staggered heterogeneous nature of the remedy, we use the newest estimator from the difference-in-difference literature (Callaway and Sant’Anna 2020).

First, we doc that native governments spend greater than they gather taxes after ‘on-cycle’ hurricanes in comparison with ‘off-cycle’ hurricanes. The left panel of Determine 2 exhibits that aggregated expenditures on the native stage rose sooner than collected taxes after an ‘on-cycle’ hurricane however not after an ‘off-cycle’ one. Over the post-treatment interval, expenditures grew on common 2% sooner than taxes, with a 4.5% improve after ten years. In sum, our estimates point out that governments’ budgetary and post-disaster efforts depend upon catastrophe timing.

Determine 2 Influence of on- vs off-cycle hurricanes on log internet expenditures and log inhabitants

a) Impact on expenditures


b) Impact on inhabitants 

On the similar time, we observe that catastrophe timing additionally issues for inhabitants sorting. The fitting panel of Determine 2 paperwork that ‘on-cycle’ hurricanes result in a major, instant, and long-lasting improve in inhabitants, indicating that people type into affected areas after an ‘on-cycle’ catastrophe. In distinction, the scale of the general inhabitants stays unaffected by ‘off-cycle’ hurricanes. The outcomes recommend that electoral incentives of post-disaster grants result in an unintended consequence of inhabitants sorting into the affected areas.2

The affect of post-disaster insurance policies on the spatial economic system

Put up-disaster insurance policies permit areas affected by ‘on-cycle’ disasters to spend extra on higher-quality public companies than they in any other case may. Nonetheless, all different areas should pay for the post-disaster efforts as a result of federal authorities’s balanced price range. Allocating assets to the areas hit by ‘on-cycle’ disasters encourages individuals to type into the affected areas, as proven in Determine 2. Consequently, electoral cycles could expose a bigger share of the inhabitants to pure disasters in the long term.

How a lot do the upper post-disaster efforts come on the expense of decrease nationwide GDP? In our counterfactual workout routines, we examine the present post-disaster insurance policies’ mixture welfare and output results to situations the place electoral cycles or all post-disaster insurance policies are eliminated. To quantify and comprehend the implications of this new sorting sample for the mixture economic system, we introduce a dynamic spatial general-equilibrium mannequin that integrates a relationship between political cycles and post-disaster insurance policies. The mannequin offers a easy setup to discover the position of post-disaster insurance policies and electoral incentives within the spatial distribution of financial exercise.3

We calibrate the mannequin for the US in 2001, making an allowance for taxes and internet transfers (together with post-disaster grants) throughout areas, as noticed within the knowledge,4 and simulate our mannequin ahead for 80 years.5 In our first counterfactual situation, we take away the affect of post-disaster insurance policies pushed by electoral incentives by switching off the extra impact of ‘on-cycle’ disasters. In our second counterfactual situation, we solely take away the affect of post-disaster programmes on transfers and endogenous facilities.

Present post-disaster insurance policies enhance welfare on the expense of mixture GDP

The simulations reveal {that a} direct consequence of the present system is to push financial exercise towards hazard-prone coastal areas. We present that in comparison with the counterfactual situations, the present system with post-disaster insurance policies that includes electoral cycles will increase the inhabitants in some coastal areas by as much as 7% over 80 years. Determine 3 depicts ratios in native inhabitants dimension after 80 years in our baseline situation, relative to our counterfactuals; switching off the impact of the electoral cycle (panel a) and post-disaster insurance policies fully (panel b).

Determine 3 Influence of eradicating the electoral cycle or post-disaster insurance policies on inhabitants sorting

a) No electoral cycle


b) No post-disaster insurance policies

Determine 4 exhibits the affect of present post-disaster insurance policies in opposition to our counterfactual situations for welfare (panel a) and mixture output (panel b). Out-migration from over-congested areas and the supply of higher-quality facilities matter, such that present catastrophe insurance policies enhance mixture welfare, not accounting for different disasters. Panel a of Determine 4 paperwork that in our baseline: welfare will increase by 0.82% after 80 years relative to our first situation and a pair of.10% relative to our second situation. Nonetheless, these welfare enhancements come at the price of decrease mixture productiveness and actual GDP on the nationwide stage (panel b).

Determine 4 Influence of eradicating the electoral cycle or post-disaster insurance policies on nationwide productiveness and welfare

a) Welfare      

b) Actual GDP 

Intuitively, enhancements in endogenous facilities pushed by post-disaster efforts encourage the inhabitants to pay attention in coastal, amenable areas, which will increase total welfare. In flip, out-migration from over-congested areas spared by the disasters fosters these welfare enhancements. Nonetheless, this sorting sample brings about total productiveness losses resulting from this out-migration from the best cities, leading to mixture output loss. Accounting for different penalties of local weather change reminiscent of sea-level rise (Kocornik-Mina et al. 2016, Desmet et al. 2018b) would seemingly mitigate the welfare affect of the post-disaster efforts resulting from the price of being uncovered to different disasters.

Our outcomes uncover the unintended penalties of post-disaster insurance policies. Present post-disaster insurance policies push financial exercise in the direction of hazard-prone coastal areas. In instances of local weather change and rising catastrophe danger, policymakers must be conscious that present post-disaster programmes is perhaps pricey due to the advanced spatial responses they trigger.


Callaway, B, and P H Sant’Anna (2020), “Distinction-in-differences with a number of time durations”, Journal of Econometrics 225(2): 200–30.

Desmet, Okay, R E Kopp, S A Kulp, D Okay Nagy, M Oppenheimer, E Rossi-Hansberg and B H Strauss (2021), “Evaluating the financial price of coastal flooding”, American Financial Journal: Macroeconomics 13(2): 444–86.

Desmet, Okay, D Okay Nagy and E Rossi-Hansberg (2018a), “The geography of improvement”, Journal of Political Financial system 126(3): 903–83.

Desmet, Okay, D Okay Nagy and E Rossi-Hansberg (2018b), “Adapt or be flooded”, VoxEU.org, 2 October.

Emanuel, Okay (2011), “International warming results on us hurricane harm”, Climate, Local weather, and Society 3(4): 261–68.

Henkel, M, E Kwon and P Magontier (2022), “The unintended penalties of post-disaster insurance policies for spatial sorting”, CRED Analysis Paper No. 37, Universität Bern, Division Volkswirtschaft – CRED.

Henkel, M, T Seidel and J Suedekum (2021), “Fiscal transfers within the spatial economic system”, American Financial Journal: Financial Coverage 13(4): 433–68.

Knutson, T, S J Camargo, J C Chan, Okay Emanuel, C-H Ho, J Kossin, M Mohapatra, M Satoh, M Sugi, Okay Walsh et al. (2020), “Tropical cyclones and local weather change evaluation: Half ii: Projected response to anthropogenic warming”, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 101(3): E303–E322.

Kocornik-Mina, A, T McDermott, G Michaels and F Rauch (2016), “Do floods shift financial exercise to safer areas?”, VoxEU.org, 21 January.


1 Election Day takes place on the primary Tuesday of November each two years and corresponds to the final elections of most federal places of work. The US presidential elections are held on that day each 4 years, and the US Congress elections each two years. Hurricane season happens every year between June and late October and is due to this fact a salient electoral matter each different 12 months. Moreover, whether or not hurricanes’ timing is concurrent with Election Day is arguably exogenous, giving us an satisfactory empirical setting to leverage variation in post-disaster coverage efforts.

2 Importantly, these outcomes stay qualitatively comparable when utilizing different estimators or management teams, controlling for storm depth, or contemplating extra prolonged durations or different excessive pure disasters reminiscent of floods or wildfires. Utilizing different political dimensions (e.g. political alignment) as an alternative of electoral cycles helps the speculation that electoral incentives strongly have an effect on spatial sorting patterns.

3In doing so, we construct on Desmet et al. (2018a, 2021) however make two vital amendments by including the choice of the general public sectors (Henkel et al. 2021). First, governments in each area present native public companies, and a fiscal switch scheme reallocates assets throughout jurisdictions. Second, the quantity of transfers and subsequent endogenous facilities that an space receives in a given interval relies on being hit by a catastrophe shock and the electoral cycle.

4 The preliminary state of affairs in our mannequin represents a spatial equilibrium within the sense that utility is equalised throughout house, and people, who’re allowed to have idiosyncratic locational preferences, haven’t any incentives to maneuver anymore.

5 We use a ‘quick’ simulation interval to acknowledge the problem of simulating the far future basic amenity distribution and the next adaptation situations. We’re additionally uncertain in regards to the design of potential political and electoral establishments. Lastly, in keeping with latest local weather change situations, the frequency and depth of future hurricanes are unlikely to alter drastically for no less than 50 to 100 years within the North-Atlantic basin and are nonetheless topic to dialogue amongst meteorologists and local weather scientists (Emanuel 2011, Knutson et al. 2020).



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