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The Damage Caused by Natural Disasters

The NY Times points to unenforced building codes and low quality cement as leading causes of the damage caused by the Haitian earthquake. The 2nd point is interesting. Cement is costly in Haiti. To economize on it, construction waters this stuff down.

"Concrete is very expensive — much of the cement for it comes from the United States, Mr. Dooley said — so some contractors cut corners by adding more sand to the mix. The result is a structurally weaker material that deteriorates rapidly, he said. Steel reinforcing bar is also expensive, he said, so there is a tendency to use less of it with the concrete."

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A recent literature has examined the death toll imposed by natural disasters in poor, middle income and rich nations. If you want to read two of my favorite papers; look at paper #1 and
paper #2 .

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