Climate change and natural disasters: Macroeconomic performance and distributional impacts

María Eugenia Ibarrarán, Matthias Ruth, Sanjana Ahmad, Marisa London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Commonly occurring natural events become natural disasters when they affect the population through death and injury, and/or through the destruction of natural and physical capital on which people rely for their livelihood and quality of life. Climate change plays a role in that it tends to increase the frequency and intensity of weather-related natural disasters. Additionally, climate change may put people at risk by influencing access to water, coastal flooding, disease and hunger, and leaving them with a more degraded environment, leading, in turn, to increased vulnerability. The purpose of this paper is to present a review and synthesis of the literature and case studies addressing differential impacts of climate change-related natural disasters on a society and its economy. Developed and developing countries show different vulnerabilities to natural disasters. Even within countries, impacts vary significantly across population and economic sectors. When losses from natural disasters are large, their cumulative effect can have notable macroeconomic impacts, which feed back to further pronounce existing income inequalities and lower income levels. Impacts tend to be most pronounced for women, the young and elderly, and people of ethnic or racial minorities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-569
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironment, Development and Sustainability
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


  • Climate change
  • Income distribution
  • Macroeconomic impact
  • Natural disaster
  • Poverty
  • Vulnerability

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