Using a new data set on annual deaths from disasters in 73 nations from 1980 to 2002, this paper tests several hypotheses concerning natural-disaster mitigation. Though richer nations do not experience fewer natural disasters than poorer nations, richer nations do suffer less death from disaster. Economic development provides implicit insurance against nature's shocks. Democracies and nations with higher-quality institutions suffer less death from natural disaster. Because climate change is expected to increase the frequency of natural disasters such as floods, these results have implications for the incidence of global warming.

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