Working Paper

Financial Vulnerability and Personal Finance Outcomes of Natural Disasters

Abstract: I evaluate the effects of hurricanes of varying intensity on the financial condition of a typical resident in both affected and unaffected census tracts, where the degree of affect is determined by the relative location of a census tract?s boundary with buffers around the tracks of hurricane eyes that occurred in the years 2000-2014. The primary question in the article is whether financial vulnerability, or, alternatively, ?financial preparedness,? affects post-hurricane disaster financial outcomes. {{p}} I find that hurricanes tend to lower credit scores, for the most, but outcomes are far from uniform across categories of hurricanes. I attribute these differences largely to number of disasters in each quarter of the study period, levels of disaster aid, and media coverage and political interest. In some cases I surmise that those in the 25-mile buffer may benefit from economic stimulus that follows a hurricane, but do not have damages and other economic losses to the same extent as those within a 15-mile buffer. Modeling hurricanes as ?treatments? and interacting them with variables from consumer credit reports, I find that the financial vulnerability of residents in affected census tracts is associated with poorer financial outcomes. Considering lags, financial vulnerability is shown to have a considerable impact on post-hurricane personal finance outcomes.

Keywords: Disasters; Hurricanes; Financial Preparedness;

JEL Classification: I31; Q54; R11;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Part of Series: Research Working Paper

Publication Date: 2017-09-01

Number: RWP 17-9

Pages: 60 pages