Journal Articles

Earthquakes are often attributed to a myriad of human casualties, but its variation is quite remarkable across countries. This paper first presents a simple theoretic analysis to understand why earthquake casualties vary across countries. After that, using a rich panel dataset of countries observed over half a century, from 1950 to 2009, this paper provides empirical evidence that the middle-income countries are more susceptible to earthquake casualties because of its higher level of vulnerable buildings relative to the low- and high-income countries. This finding retains its robustness when I use different income-based criteria of defining country classification, controlling for earthquake probabilities, capturing institutional effects, and devising alternative specifications, among others. The results suggest that the governments can significantly reduce earthquake casualties by emphasising on the quality—rather than quantity—of built environment through enforcing quake-resistant regulations. Non-technical Audioslide Presentation

"Can Extreme Rainfall Trigger Democratic Change? The Role of Flood-Induced Corruption" Public Choice 171
(3):  331-358, 2017
. [with N. Anbarci, P. Bhattacharya, and M. Ulubaşoğlu]

Using a new data set of extreme rainfall covering 130 countries from 1979 to 2009, this paper investigates the effect of extreme rainfall-driven floods on democratic conditions. Our key finding is that extreme rainfall-led floods exert two opposing effects on the level of democracy. On one hand, floods trigger corruption in the distribution of relief and other post-disaster assistance, which in turn activates a reaction from the citizenry demanding an improved democracy. On the other hand, floods induce an autocratic tendency in the incumbent regime because an efficient post-disaster management without dissent, chaos or plunder following the disaster, requires a repressive reaction from the governing authority. The net estimated effect is an improvement in democratic conditions.
"The Shocking Origins of Political Transitions: Earthquakes" Southern Economic Journal 83
(3):  796-823, 2017
[with N. Anbarci, P. Bhattacharya, and M. Ulubaşoğlu]

Do earthquakes trigger political transitions? Using a rich panel dataset of 160 countries observed over 1950 to 2007, we find that earthquake shocks, measured in terms of the effect of ground-motion amplitude on death toll, have two contradicting effects on political change. On the one hand, earthquakes drive transitions into democracy due to an affective shock, which we interpret to be the reaction of voters to earthquakes by which they hold the incumbent government responsible for earthquake damages. On the other hand, earthquakes indirectly hasten transitions into a less democratic regime because they increase the income level contemporaneously, possibly due to short-term emergency response and recovery expenditures, and thus, making it costlier to contest the incumbent government. Overall, we show that, while not leading to a full-fledged regime transition, earthquake shocks open a new democratic window of opportunity, but this window is narrowed by improved economic conditions.
The Role of Middle-class in Economic Development: What Do Cross-country Data Show?" Review of Development Economics 21
(2):  404-424, 2017
. [with N. Chun, R. Hasan, and M. Ulubaşoğlu]

This paper investigates the channels through which the middle class may matter for consumption growth. Using several different middle-class measures and a panel of 105 developing countries spanning the period 1985–2013, we find that a larger middle class influences consumption growth primarily through higher levels of human capital accumulation. There is also a significant direct effect of middle-class size on consumption growth, which is more pronounced in the latter half of the sample, the 2000–2013 period.
"Role of Middle Class in Democratic Diffusion." International Review of Economics and Finance 42(3): 536-548, 2016. [with N. Chun, R. Hasan, and M. Ulubaşoğlu]

The modernization hypothesis and the democratic domino theory have been at the forefront in explaining the democratization around the globe. This paper empirically investigates the ‘middle class-driven modernization’ hypothesis and the ‘middle class-driven democratic domino’ effect in a panel of 145 countries over the period 1985 to 2013. Using several middle class measures and a dynamic panel estimator, we show that the ‘middle class-driven modernization’ hypothesis finds strong empirical support in the sample of developing countries excluding Eastern Europe and Central Asia, while the ‘middle class-driven democratic domino’ effect finds support in the sample of developing countries excluding East Asia and the Pacific.

 Refereed Books/Entries
Economic Growth: Measurement.” International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Second edition, Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2015.
[With M. Ulubaşoğlu]

Measuring economic performance of a country is – arguably – one of the most important contributions of empirical economics. Historically, the national income accounting system was designed for maximizing the government earnings by finding better ways of imposing higher taxes. In contemporary economies, economic growth and their estimation approaches have become instrumental in devising social welfare maximizing policies in a more systemic way. This article embodies most of the fundamental measuring techniques of national accounting system in retrospect, and indicates several secondary data sources that are widely used in growth empirics.

 Popular Writings/Newsletters
"Modelling Pre-disaster National Hazard Loss Estimation: A Shift from Reactive to Proactive Policy." 
Asian Disaster Management News 18(1), 2012. [with N. Fernando]

Until the 1990s, the economic modeling of natural hazards and disasters received relatively little attention from research communities. A series of disasters in the mid 1990s, such as the Northridge Earthquake in 1994 and the Kobe Earthquake in 1995, which occurred in developed urban areas and caused considerable damage to the society, demonstrated how vulnerable modern industrialized cities are to severe natural hazards. In this context, Economists are likely to have different opinions as to how to best model indirect and systemic losses. Significant progress has been made in recent years in the economic analysis of disasters, especially in the field of economic modeling for disaster impact analysis in an inter-country context. This paper reviews the extant studies on disaster impact assessment, and highlights on an initiative taken by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) to develop a comprehensive methodology of estimating economic losses in natural hazards in mainstreaming disaster risk reduction measures into the development process.

 Professional/Technical Reports
"Bringing Hazard and Economic Modellers Together: A Spatial Platform for Damage and Losses Visualisation." Proceedings of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council, 2015. [with P. Bhattacharya, Y. Chen, M. Kalantari, K. Potts, A. Rajabifard and M. Ulubaşoğlu]

Estimating potential damage and losses as a result of natural disasters is challenging, as it entails a multi-disciplinary approach. Since the estimation of potential damage broadly initiates with the identification of the source as well as determination of the probability of the occurrence of disasters, hazard-modellers along with civil engineers generally lead the whole process to estimate the potential destruction—either fully or partially—of infrastructures against a set of scenarios. When it comes to the estimation of losses from natural disasters, Economists step in mainly using an empirical econometric approach. In this paper, a methodology to connect the multi-hazard disaster damage assessment approach with an empirical econometric strategy of estimating disaster losses in one spatial platform is proposed. Enabling the visualisation of potential damage and losses of natural disasters through this approach acts as a decision support tool for both the federal and state governments to prioritize budget allocation across different economic sectors.
"A South Asia Study on Collaborative Action towards Societal Challenges through Awareness, Development and Education (CASCADE)." Climate Change and Climate Risk Management News, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, Thailand, 
2015. [with R. Dutta, S. Basnayake, A. Rahman, K. Tawhid, Y. Gyawali and I. Rana]

CASCADE is a project under the European Community's Programme for International Cooperation within their 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (2007-2013). The aim of this project is to provide the foundation for a future INCONET programme targeting South Asian Countries and which will promote bi-regional coordination of Science and Technology (S&T) cooperation, including priority setting and definition of S&T cooperation policies. The project was implemented in seven South Asian countries namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka with the work being focused on the thematic societal challenges identified under EU’s Horizon2020 research programme. This paper gives an overall understanding of the project as well as some of its significant outcomes that it has already achieved.