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Cellular Telephones and Natural Disaster Vulnerability

Faculty of Economics, Nagoya City University, Mizuho-cho, Mizuho-ku, Nagoya 467-8501, Japan
Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1039, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 2970;
Received: 21 June 2018 / Revised: 8 August 2018 / Accepted: 10 August 2018 / Published: 21 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Disasters and Economics)
PDF [425 KB, uploaded 21 August 2018]


A global revolution in information and communication technologies (ICT) has occurred over the past few decades, emerging first in industrialized countries and then in developing countries. While researchers have examined many facets of the ICT revolution, relatively little work has systematically examined the degree to which ICT has reduced natural disaster vulnerability. In this article we use cross-country data over the 1980–2013 period to estimate the relationship between newly-emerging cell phone access/use and disaster-induced fatalities. Our estimates suggest that a one-standard-deviation increase in cell phone usage reduces disaster fatalities by nearly one half. The estimated effect increases to almost three quarters for geologic events where people are typically afflicted without warning. The largest marginal benefit from cell phones in terms of saving lives come from events where there is typically no warning, thus, many are caught by surprise; cell phones are used to call for help and coordinate assistance. View Full-Text
Keywords: economic development; natural disasters; information/communication technology; cell phone economic development; natural disasters; information/communication technology; cell phone

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Toya, H.; Skidmore, M. Cellular Telephones and Natural Disaster Vulnerability. Sustainability 2018, 10, 2970.

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