Economics ETDs

Publication Date



Exposure to natural hazards is rapidly increasing due to growing populations within floodplains and along hazard-prone coastlines. This trend, coupled with potential increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events from climate change, underscores the importance of disaster research and continued advancements in hazard risk mitigation. This dissertation conducts analyses regarding the effects of natural hazards on residential location choice, county migration rates, mental health status, and displacement. The results have practical implications for disaster risk management. Chapter 2 estimates household willingness-to-pay to live in lower hazard-risk areas. A model of residential location choice is developed in which households select the location that maximizes expected utility. Empirical estimates are obtained using a two-stage estimation process that exploits spatial variation in labor markets, housing markets, and environmental amenities across U.S. metropolitan statistical areas. Results indicate an annual willingness-to-pay of $275 per household for a marginal reduction in the expected number of earthquake, hurricane, and flood events per 1000 years. Chapter 3 estimates the relationship between county-level net in-migration rates and the expected frequency of hazard events. Empirical estimation is complicated by the presence of spatial dependency and heterogeneity. These issues are addressed using spatial simultaneous autoregressive estimation and geographically weighted regression. Results show that net in-migration rates are negatively correlated with expected frequency. Moreover, the effects of hazard risk are strongest in the Southern U.S.; a region susceptible to increased hazard intensity from climate change. Chapter 4 contains two separate analyses regarding the wellbeing of individuals affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The first analysis evaluates the effect of post-disaster stress and vulnerability on long-term mental health. Results show that the likelihood of being diagnosed with an adverse mental health condition increases with stress and vulnerability levels. The second analysis evaluates the determinants of displacement and the duration of displacement. Results show that housing damage is the most important predictor of displacement and displacement duration. Social support has a positive impact on displacement but a negative impact on the displacement duration, implying that social networks provide accommodations during hazard events as well as assistance in returning home.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Economics

First Committee Member (Chair)

Berrens, Robert P.

Second Committee Member

Chermak, Janie M.

Third Committee Member

Hansen, Wendy L.




Natural Hazards, Displacement, Mental Health, Hurricane Katrina, Sorting Model, Residential Location Decisions, Amenity Migration

Document Type