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Visual #1: Economic Growth from Hurricanes Could Outweigh Costs

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Although natural disasters spread destruction and economic pain to a wide variety of businesses, for some, it can mean a burst of activity and revenue.

USA Today, September 26, 2004

1 Month. 4 Hurricanes: Jeanne, Ivan, Frances, Charley. Pain or Gain?

There’s no denying the suffering that natural disasters bring to victims unfortunate enough to be caught in their paths. But what about the bigger picture – the impact on the economy? As the quote above indicates, people seem to be of two minds. You job in this activity is to end the confusion and come up with a definitive answer to the question of whether disasters are good for the economy.

These definitions may be helpful in sorting out the clues:

GDP (Gross Domestic Product): GDP measures the output, or new production, of an entire economy over a single year. Comparing GDP from one year to the next can give us an indication of whether and how fast an economy is growing.

GDP per capita: Per capita means “per person.”

GDP per capita = GDP ÷ population

This is the commonly used measure of economic “well-being,” or the average standard of living of the people in the economy.