Shaken, Not Stirred: The Impact of Disasters on International Trade

- 4 May 2018

This paper examines the impact of major disasters on import and export flows using a gravity model (170 countries, 1962ā€“2004).As a conservative estimate, an additional disaster reduces imports on average by 0.2% and exports by 0.1%. Despite the apparent persistence of bilateral trade volumes, we find that the driving forces determining the impact of disastrous events are the level of democracy and the geographical size of the affected country.The less democratic and the smaller a country the greater is its loss due to a catastrophe. In autocracies, exports and imports are significantly reduced.Had Togo been struck by a major disaster in 2000, it would have lost 6.2% of its imports and 3.7% of its exports.While democratic countriesā€™ exports suffer identical decreases, imports increase.