Disrupting disruption : an empirical analysis of patent activities in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.
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- Master Thesis 
t is well established that innovation is one of the key factors to fight climate change. This thesis explores the reverse relationship between climate change and innovation by investigating the implication of a natural disaster on patent numbers. In August 2005, one of the most devastating natural disasters in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina, struck the continent causing costly damages and more than 1500 fatalities. This paper uses patent data on county level covering the years from 2002 to 2008 to investigate the effect of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent hurricanes Rita and Wilma on patent activities in the impacted areas. The patent data have been acquired from PatentsView, while data concerning the hurricanes are retrieved from The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Previous studies suggest that natural disasters and climate change have an impact on patent levels which is mainly positive. To the best of my knowledge, there are no similar studies of the relationship between hurricanes and patents using data on county level. The econometric analysis is conducted by performing a difference-indifference regression with fixed effects on the aggregated inventor patent share per 100.000 inhabitants. Patents related to all technologies, climate-change related technologies only, and construction related technologies only were assessed. The results show no significant evidence for a relationship between the hurricanes and patent numbers. Given that the used model is well specified and factors pushing the effects towards zero are absent, this study implies a non-existing or weak relationship between the hurricanes and average patent levels in impacted areas.