Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 13–26 | Cite as

The impact of socio-economics and climate change on tropical cyclone losses in the USA

Original Article


Tropical cyclones that make landfall on the coast of the USA are causing increasing economic losses. It is assumed that the increase in losses is largely due to socio-economic developments, i.e. growing wealth and greater settlement of exposed areas. However, it is also thought that the rise in losses is caused by increasing frequency of severe cyclones resulting from climate change, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. The object of this paper is to investigate how sensitive the losses are to socio-economic changes and climate changes and how these factors have evolved over the last 50 years. We will then draw conclusions about the part the factors concerned play in the observed increase in losses. For analysis purposes, storm loss is depicted as a function of the value of material assets affected by the storm (the capital stock) and storm intensity. The findings show the increase in losses due to socio-economic changes to have been approximately three times greater than that due to climate-induced changes.


Tropical cyclones Climate change Socio-economic impact Storm damage function 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Humboldt-Universität zu BerlinMunichGermany
  2. 2.German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)BerlinGermany
  3. 3.Munich Reinsurance CompanyMunichGermany

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