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Aug 2, 2021 2021-08 Faculty Finance Research in Education

Four Gies faculty win $1.6 million research award from NIH

Four faculty members in the Gies College of Business Department of Finance have been awarded more than $1.6 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support their project “The Long-Run Impacts of Natural Disasters on Mortality and Disease Burden Among US Elderly and Disabled Adults.” The project, developed by Associate Professor Tatyana Deryugina,  Daniel and Cynthia Mah Helle Professor of Finance Nolan Miller, Assistant Professor David Molitor, and Assistant Professor Julian Reif, extends prior research by Deryugina and Molitor on the long-run mortality impacts of Hurricane Katrina to a wider range of natural disasters.

NIH award“This award enables our team to advance our understanding of how natural disasters affect health and health care needs among older adults and those living with long-term disabilities, who are especially vulnerable to these climate risks,” said Molitor.

Deryugina and Molitor’s original paper “Does When You Die Depend on Where You Live? Evidence from Hurricane Katrina” used Medicare data to estimate Katrina’s long-run mortality effects on victims initially living in New Orleans. Their research – published in American Economic Review – found that the hurricane improved eight-year survival by more than two percentage points and credited that increase to migration to lower-mortality regions.

This new project will use individual-level administrative Medicare data on elderly and long-term disabled beneficiaries to estimate the short- and long-run effects of a broad range of natural disasters—such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods—on health, health care use, and health-related expenditures among the elderly. Researchers will track individuals living in disaster-affected areas before the disaster regardless of where they move, and a control group of unaffected elderly will be used to establish how outcomes would have evolved in the absence of the event. The project will also use a new machine learning approach to identify vulnerable subpopulations based on individual health characteristics, demographic traits, and local economic and public health circumstances.

“The results of this research will help guide public policies regarding disaster preparedness and response, helping to avoid or reduce the health impacts of future disasters and improving individual health resiliency,” Molitor said.

This is the third NIH grant this group of Gies researchers has received, and it represents a major part of the research program of the Center for Business and Public Policy (CBPP) at Gies College of Business. The CBPP promotes rigorous research on how market forces and public policy shape one another and communicates their findings through teaching and public engagement activities.