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Popp paper on innovative responses to natural disasters published in JEEM

Aug 31, 2014

Necessity as the Mother of Invention: Innovative Responses to Natural Disasters

Qing Miao & David Popp

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, August 2014

David Popp

David Popp


How do innovators respond to the shock of a natural disaster? Do natural disasters spur technical innovations that can reduce the risk of future hazards? This paper examines the impact of three types of natural disasters—floods, droughts and earthquakes—on the innovation of their respective mitigation technologies.

Using patent and disaster data, the authors' study is the first to empirically examine adaptation responses across multiple sectors at the country level. Considering the potential endogeneity of disaster damages, the authors use meteorological and geophysical data to create hazard intensity measures as instrumental variables. Overall, they show that natural disasters lead to more risk-mitigating innovations, while the degree of influence varies across different types of disasters and technologies.

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