Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in International and Development Economics (MSIDEC)


College of Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Sunny Wong

Second Advisor

Jesse Anttila-Hughes


Do natural disasters impact educational attainment? Education as a paramount factor of economic development suffers from the uncontrollable effects of these increasing events from storms to floods, earthquakes to wildfires. Globally, educational resources are destroyed, directly and indirectly, students and teachers are displaced or killed, parents’ income is affected because of natural disasters. Investments in human capital for rich- and low-income countries are exposed to the uneven impact of natural disasters that adjusts household and country-level decisions, leaving them to short and long-run losses. Exploring the influence of natural disasters on secondary school attainment across a sample of 85 countries from 1960 to 1990, we employ a panel data set from the Emergency Events dataset and Barro-Lee dataset. Using year and country fixed effects, the data shows that the intensity of deaths from natural disasters has a greater effect on secondary school attainment than the intensity of damages from these disasters. Data also suggests that damages per capita have a slightly significant effect on the secondary school repetition rate. Psychological and behavioral effects caused by deaths from disasters lead to disinvestments from human capital and these degenerates into long-term effects on economic development. Consequently, while natural disasters cannot be averted, its damages can be curtailed, therefore, it is crucial to inform policies that drive countries to a conscientious effort for high-performance social intervention programs; and motivate an urgency for climate change conversation.