Estimating economic losses from earthquakes using an empirical approach

Earthquake Spectra
By:  and 



We extended the U.S. Geological Survey's Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response (PAGER) empirical fatality estimation methodology proposed by Jaiswal et al. (2009) to rapidly estimate economic losses after significant earthquakes worldwide. The requisite model inputs are shaking intensity estimates made by the ShakeMap system, the spatial distribution of population available from the LandScan database, modern and historic country or sub-country population and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data, and economic loss data from Munich Re's historical earthquakes catalog. We developed a strategy to approximately scale GDP-based economic exposure for historical and recent earthquakes in order to estimate economic losses. The process consists of using a country-specific multiplicative factor to accommodate the disparity between economic exposure and the annual per capita GDP, and it has proven successful in hindcast-ing past losses. Although loss, population, shaking estimates, and economic data used in the calibration process are uncertain, approximate ranges of losses can be estimated for the primary purpose of gauging the overall scope of the disaster and coordinating response. The proposed methodology is both indirect and approximate and is thus best suited as a rapid loss estimation model for applications like the PAGER system.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Estimating economic losses from earthquakes using an empirical approach
Series title Earthquake Spectra
DOI 10.1193/1.4000104
Volume 29
Issue 1
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher EERI
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description 16 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Earthquake Spectra
First page 309
Last page 324
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