Regional growth, structural change, and natural disaster

Richard Michael Vogel, Florida International University


Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and other serious natural hazards have been attributed with causing changes in regional economic growth, income, employment, and wealth. Natural disasters are said to cause; (1) an acceleration of existing economic trends; (2) an expansion of employment and income, due to recovery operations (the so-called silver lining); and (3) an alteration in the structure of regional economic activity due to changes in "intra" and "inter" regional trading patterns, and technological change. Theoretical and stylized disaster simulations (Cochrane 1975; Haas, Cochrane, and Kates 1977; Petak et al. 1982; Ellson et al. 1983, 1984; Boisvert 1992; Brookshire and McKee 1992) point towards a wide scope of possible negative and long lasting impacts upon economic activity and structure. This work examines the consequences of Hurricane Andrew on Dade County's economy. Following the work of Ellson et al. (1984), Guimaraes et al. (1993), and West and Lenze (1993; 1994), a regional econometric forecasting model (DCEFM) using a framework of "with" and "without" the hurricane is constructed and utilized to assess Hurricane Andrew's impact on the structure and level of economic activity in Dade County, Florida. The results of the simulation exercises show that the direct economic impact associated with Hurricane Andrew on Dade County is of short duration, and of isolated sectoral impact, with impact generally limited to construction, TCP (transportation, communications, and public utilities), and agricultural sectors. Regional growth, and changes in income and employment reacted directly to, and within the range and direction set by national economic activity. The simulations also lead to the conclusion that areal extent, infrastructure, and sector specific damages or impacts, as opposed to monetary losses, are the primary determinants of a disaster's effects upon employment, income, growth, and economic structure.

Subject Area

Economics|Urban planning|Area planning & development|Geography

Recommended Citation

Vogel, Richard Michael, "Regional growth, structural change, and natural disaster" (1996). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9717841.