Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Essays on the Impacts of Tropical Cyclones and the Role of Public Policy in the United States
Authors: Young, Rachel Marie
Advisors: Oppenheimer, Michael
Contributors: Public and International Affairs Department
Keywords: buyout
natural hazard
tropical cyclone
Subjects: Public policy
Environmental studies
Issue Date: 2024
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Climate change is already shaping societies, creating new risks, and exacerbating vulnerabilities. Simultaneously, there is a growing demand for policy decisions to be rooted in data-driven evidence. Utilizing big data, econometrics, machine learning, and insights from public economics, these essays evaluate the impacts of natural hazards on long-run mortality and migration, and assess the effectiveness of existing government policy that aims to help people relocate from hazardous areas. The first essay estimates the effect of tropical cyclones (TCs) on US mortality between 1930-2015. We find previously undocumented evidence that TCs cause elevated long-run mortality impacts, particularly for young and Black populations, up to 15 years after a TC incidence. Motivated, in part, by the harm we uncover from TC events, the next two essays then answer two key questions for policy design: (1) whether individuals mitigate these harms by moving away from areas with frequent TC incidences; and, if they do not, (2) how effective are government programs that pay people to move? In my second essay, we examine the likelihood of moving after several different types of natural hazards, including TCs, at three spatial scales (county, census block, and household), accounting for damage severity caused by the hazards. Across all scales and damage levels, we do not, generally, detect moves up to four years after the hazard event. My third essay then evaluates the effectiveness of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s property acquisition program, also known as buyouts, in helping people move and reducing their flood risk. This program purchases properties from households that are impacted (or repeatedly impacted) by natural hazards. We find that while government funded relocation can help people move to less risky homes and higher income neighborhoods, these benefits have been concentrated among individuals from whiter neighborhoods. Together, these essays underscore the importance of increasing investment in hazard adaptation, particularly among young and Black populations. Prioritizing spending in climate distressed areas may reduce persistent geographic disparities in mortality in the US, and focusing on helping individuals move to lower risk areas can help improve welfare for families and communities.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Public and International Affairs

Files in This Item:
This content is embargoed until 2025-02-06. For questions about theses and dissertations, please contact the Mudd Manuscript Library. For questions about research datasets, as well as other inquiries, please contact the DataSpace curators.

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.