Professor Ilan Noy and his team of researchers study the economics of disasters, including earthquakes, epidemics, droughts, and cyclones.

Blazing forest fire
Forest fire. Photo: NASA

What makes a disaster?

The seriousness of a disaster depends on the combination of hazard, exposure, and vulnerability. A hazard might be a tropical cyclone. Exposure describes the people, assets, and ecosystems that are present when and where the cyclone occurs. And vulnerability reflects the ability of the cyclone to harm or damage whatever was exposed to it. For example, a cyclone becomes a disaster when it hits land if, and only if, there is infrastructure there that can be damaged by its force. The same is true for other hazards, like earthuquakes, drought, or epidemics.

What we research

Our research group studies the economic impact of disasters both in New Zealand and overseas. Some of the main areas of research focus include:

  • measuring the short- and long-term impacts of disasters on communities and economies
  • devising new tools for measuring the cost of disasters
  • quantifying post-disaster emergency aid and fiscal needs
  • developing risk transfer tools, and
  • investigating and projecting shocks to different sectors of the economy, such as insurance, property, health, education, or agriculture.

Who we work with

The team's research is often multi-disciplinary and performed in collaboration with academics and practitioners in such fields as planning, geography, hydrology, and atmospheric physics. We work closely with other research initiatives in New Zealand, including:

Ilan is the founding editor of Economics of Disasters and Climate Change, a journal launched in 2017 and published by Springer Nature.

Main research areas

Massive billowing clouds from an eruption of Mt Sinabung, Indonesia. Photo: Yosh Ginsu, Unsplash.

Consequences of disasters

We study the effects of disasters over different time frames.

Silhouettes of two firefighters in helmets spraying water on burnt tropical shanty house with corrugated roof iron in foreground. Aftermath of fire in Philippines. Photo: Denniz Futalan, Pexels.

The cost of climate change

We partner with attribution scientists to study extreme event costs.

Satellite view of bright green Mississippi River and brown, blocky landscape, Photo: USGS, Unsplash.

Measuring losses

We study new ways to measure losses.

Aerial view of Melton Mowbray, UK, a rural area of England with mostly brown fields in small blocks, Photo: Dan Roizer, Unsplash.

Specific sectoral impacts

How do disasters affect particular sectors of the economy, such as insurance, agriculture, or health?

Dry cracked lake bed with little water against a background of a setting sun over mountains.

Case studies

Each disaster is different. What can we learn from studying the specifics of particular case studies?

People on scaffolding work on a building

Risk reduction and mitigation

Disaster risk can be reduced or mitigated with policies and incentives. Our team has been examining several possibilities.

Satellite image of swirling white weather system over New Zealand

Whakahura—extreme events and the emergence of climate change

Whakahura is a five-year multidisciplinary programme funded by the Hīkina Whakatutuki Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE).

Ilan's personal website includes more detail about his research.