Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Cell Phones and Natural Disaster Vulnerability

Version 1 : Received: 21 June 2018 / Approved: 22 June 2018 / Online: 22 June 2018 (05:55:05 CEST)

How to cite: Toya, H.; Skidmore, M. Cell Phones and Natural Disaster Vulnerability. Preprints 2018, 2018060345 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201806.0345.v1). Toya, H.; Skidmore, M. Cell Phones and Natural Disaster Vulnerability. Preprints 2018, 2018060345 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201806.0345.v1).

Abstract

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.

Subject Areas

economic development; natural disasters; information/communication technology; cell phone

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