Natural Disasters and the Size of Nations

Muhammet A. Bas, Elena V. McLean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What is the relationship between natural disasters and country size? Is an increasing likelihood of environmental shocks linked to political integration or secessionism? We argue that natural disasters are associated with a decline in country size. This relationship arises because costs generated by disasters are higher for citizens located farther away from the political center of a country, and costs are amplified as disasters affect a larger area in a country, which in turn makes it less desirable for citizens in remote regions to remain part of a larger country. Our empirical results show that greater risks of environmental shocks are indeed associated with smaller countries, as well as smaller administrative units.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-702
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Interactions
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 19 2016


  • Country size
  • natural disasters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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