The Long-run Effects of Tropical Cyclones on Infant Mortality


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The Long-run Effects of Tropical Cyclones on Infant Mortality is a well researched physical sciences and Mathematics Master’s Thesis topic for final year students and undergraduates, it is to be used as a guide or framework for your Academic Research.


In the United States alone, each tropical cyclone causes an average of $14.6 billion worth of damages. In addition to the destruction of physical infrastructure, natural disasters also negatively impact human capital formation.

These losses are often more difficult to observe, and therefore, are over looked when quantifying the true costs of natural disasters. One particular effect is an increase in infant mortality rates, an important indicator of a country’s general socioeconomic level.

This paper utilizes a model created by Anttila-Hughes and Hsiang, that takes advantage of annual variation in tropical cyclones using annual spatial average maximum wind speeds and Demographic and Health Surveys data, in order to find a causal relationship between infant
mortality and tropical cyclones.

The results show that there is a statistically significant increase in infant mortality with a lagged effect. This research topic is even more relevant given the evidence  on climate change such as rising sea temperatures, which aggravates both the occurrence and
severity of tropical cyclones.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines a tropical storm as a rotating low-pressure system that originates in tropical waters with winds of at least 74mph.

These natural disasters have approximately affected 466.1 million individuals in a 30-year period between 1977 and 2009 (Doocy, Dick & Daniels, 2013). This number will only continue to rise as coastal populations increase and climate change unfolds.

While quantifying the number of people impacted by tropical cyclones is very important, deciphering how and when individuals are impacted is crucial to developing policies that mitigate disaster damages.

This study aims to find a causal link between infant mortality and lagged exposure to tropical cyclones, and quantify the magnitude of these time-lagged
effects relative to immediate ones.

The first part of studying natural disasters, such as tropical cyclones, is breaking
down their impacts into direct and indirect effects. Direct damages are those that occur at the time the disaster hit and include destruction of physical assets like buildings, roads, equipment, and crops, as well as direct loss of life.

These damages are the easiest to observe and therefore, are usually the ones studied and quantified when accounting for the cost of a disaster. Indirect damage refers to goods and services that will not be produced after the disaster has hit as a result of direct damages, as well as impacts to human capital such as health and education (ECLAC, 2003).

The first problem when trying to quantify the true total costs of natural disasters is measuring the indirect impacts, because they are incurred after a disaster has hit and can endure long after. Consequently, these impacts are harder to observe and quantify, which often leads to miscalculations when reporting the costs and effects of a disaster.

Developing countries located in the tropics face a higher risk from tropical cyclones
due both to their geographical location (i.e., located at latitudes with warmer sea
temperatures) and economic circumstances, and accordingly, it is worth noting the importance of advancing further research in these countries.

Moreover, because these countries find themselves in hazard-prone areas, their economic development is constantly slowed due to increased public expenditure on disaster relief, lower revenues from reduced
economic activity and any losses incurred by the tropical storm (Pelling, Özerdem &
Barakat, 2005).

The previously mentioned problems involving correctly quantifying the true costs of natural disasters only become more difficult in the context of developing
countries due to the lack of resources, standardized processes and consistent data available.


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Master's Thesis


Physical Sciences and Mathematics

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