Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography & ODU Resilience Collaborative



Spring 2019 Seminar Series

"ANTICIPATING MOTHER NATURE: UNCERTAIN HURRICANE FORECASTS IMPAIR BIRTH OUTCOMES"

Jacob Hochard
Department of Economics, East Carolina University

Monday, March 18, 2019
3:30 PM
Conference Center, Innovation Resarch Building II
4211 Monarch Way, Norfolk, VA 23508

Abstract

Early forecasts give people in a storm's path time to prepare. Less is known about the cost to society when forecasts are incorrect. We examine births in the months around Hurricane Irene. Birth weights and gestation lengths are reduced and the likelihood of preterm births increased in populations grazed by hurricane weather. We discover that this effect is caused by time spent in the hurricane's "Cone of Uncertainty" where disaster anticipation is a major stressor to pregnant women. While correct forecasts (avoiding a type II error) improve birth outcomes more than incorrect forecasts (incurring a type I error) impair birth outcomes, total birth impairments outweigh improvements from additonal advisories because impacted individuals are a small portion of those who anticipate impact. Recognizing storm damages depends on predicted storm paths and is critical to supporting the next generation's developmental potential. Judicious forecasting that ensures institutions mitigate is required to not exacerbate climate damages.


Biography

Dr. Hochard received a B.A. in Economics and a B.A. in Environmental Studies, both from Gettysburg College. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Wyoming. At East Carolina University, he is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics, an Assistant Research Scientist in the Coastal Studies Institute, a Research Fellow at the Center for Natural Hazards Research, and a Research Affiliate with the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute. As an applied natural resource economist, he combines geospatial analysis, mathematical modeling, and empirical analysis to examine feedback between natural and human systems.


Reception before seminar at 3:00 PM


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