The Economic Impact of a Typhoon Can Be Worse Than the Storm

How It Works
Nov. 14 2013 4:54 PM

The Economic Impact of a Typhoon Can Be Worse Than the Storm

187947754
A woman carries an empty water bottle as she walks past debris left after the passage of Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, on the eastern island of Leyte, on Nov. 14, 2013.

Photo by Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

As noted on the blog earlier this week, the Philippines is particularly prone to natural disasters, though rarely any as severe as this week’s typhoon. This is one factor holding back the country’s economic growth, which then unfortunately makes its people more vulnerable to these disasters.

One paper published earlier this year by Jesse Keith Anttila-Huges and Solomon Hsiang used the typhoons of the Philippines to measure the economic impact of natural disasters on households. The relative frequency of these storms makes them easier to study than other types of disasters. Combining storm data with data from government economic and health surveys, the effects they found were grim.

Advertisement

In the areas studied, typhoons reduced household incomes by an average of 6.6 percent. Household expenditure decrease 7.1 percent for the average household in the average year. “In general, households reduce their spending the most on expenditures that most closely resemble human capital investments, such as medicine, education and high nutrient foods that include meat, dairy, eggs and fruit,” the authors write.

They also argue that for infant mortality, the impact of the economic deprivations caused by the typhoon is far worse than exposure to the storm itself.

“11,300 female infants suffer post-typhoon 'economic deaths' in the Philippines every year, constituting roughly 13% of the overall infant mortality rate in the Philippines,” they write. This is roughly 15 times higher than the mortality caused by the storm. (More from Hughes in a recent blog post here.)

All this is to say that the worst effects of Typhoon Haiyan have likely not yet been felt. And Jessica Alexander’s advice, that if you want to give a donation to help the country, you should consider waiting “a few weeks, after the cameras turn off but when long-term recovery for Filipinos is just beginning,” is well taken.

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

The World

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies

They just aren’t ready to admit it yet.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

How Steven Moffat Made the Best Doctor Who Episode in Years

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 16 2014 2:11 PM Spare the Rod What Charles Barkley gets wrong about corporal punishment and black culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 2:35 PM Germany’s Nationwide Ban on Uber Lasted All of Two Weeks
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 1:27 PM The Veronica Mars Spinoff Is Just Amusing Enough to Keep Me Watching
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 1:39 PM The Case of the Missing Cerebellum How did a Chinese woman live 24 years missing part of her brain?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.