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Can Natural Disasters have positive consequences ? Investigating the role of embodied technical change

S. Hallegatte, P. Dumas, Ecological Economics, Volume 68, Issue 3, 15 January 2009, Pages 777-786

mercredi 14 mars 2007, par Stéphane Hallegatte

It has been suggested that disasters might have positive economic consequences, through the accelerated replacement of capital. This possibility is referred to as the productivity effect. This effect is investigated using a model with embodied technical change. In this framework, disasters can influence the production level but cannot influence the growth rate, in the same way than the saving ratio in a Solow-like model. Depending on reconstruction quality, indeed, accounting for embodied technical change can either decrease or increase disaster costs, but is never able to turn disasters into positive events. Moreover, a better but slower reconstruction amplifies the short-term consequences of disasters, but pays off over the long-term. Regardless, the productivity effect cannot prevent the existence of a bifurcation when disaster damages exceed the reconstruction capacity, potentially leading to poverty traps.

JEL Classification : O11 ; O41 ; Q54 ; Q56

Keywords : Embodied technical change, Natural disasters, Economic impacts.

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