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

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.


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. 



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM Going Private To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
Oct. 1 2014 9:13 AM What Is It Like to Be an Egyptologist?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 8:46 AM The Vintage eBay Find I Wore to My Sentencing
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.