Great Problems Great Minds Seminar Series: Local Economic Specialization and The Long-term Impact of an Earthquake



Join the Department of Social Sciences for this Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series event, “Local Economic Specialization and The Long-term Impact of an Earthquake” featuring guest speaker Marco Modica, an associate professor at the Gran Sasso Science Institute, L’Aquila, Italy. This seminar is open to the public and will take place on Thursday, April 20, 2023 over Zoom from 12:40–1:40 p.m.


In recent years, the long-term consequences of disasters in terms of GDP, income, and workforce have been increasingly investigated. However, we know relatively little about the long-run economic transformation processes after disasters at the local level, especially when considering permanent consequences on the local economies’ structure. Aiming at contributing to filling this gap, the seminar investigates the impact of a disruptive shock, namely the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake, on the local economic absolute and relative specialization in the long run, by using a recent development of the Synthetic Control Method (Microsynth), that allows a greater granularity of the level of analysis. We show that, although many economic indicators bounce back relatively fast to pre-disaster levels, the long-run consequences on local economic specialization can last for years as a combined result of the forces pushing the need for physical reconstruction and the envisioned post-recovery development policy.


Marco Modica received his Ph.D. in economics, market, and institutions from Institutions, Markets, Technologies (IMT) School for Advanced Studies Lucca. His teaching areas include regional science, economic geography, and natural hazard and disaster risk reduction. His research areas include regional and urban economics, new economic geography, and economics of disasters and sustainability. He has published more than 50 scholarly articles on these topics in journals, such as Networks and Spatial Economics, Papers in Regional Science, and Environmental Impact Assessment Review. His research has been funded by the International Organization of Migration, the Reducing Risks of Natural Disasters (REDI) research center, the Italian Ministry of University and Research, the National Research Council, the Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies (IMARES) University in Wageningen, Netherlands, and the Institute for Employment Research of the Federal Employment Agency in Germany. He’s currently working on several joint projects with a particular focus on the economic evaluation of external shocks such as natural disasters, with special attention on the resilience of socio-economic systems. Currently, he is investigating the fields of disaster economics and policy and spatial resilience. His approach to these subjects involves using natural catastrophes as social experiments to explain the effects on the regional economy and also to identify the economic impact of such disasters. Modica is also an associate editor of Humanities and Social Sciences Communications edited by Springer Nature.

The event is part of the Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series which explores the major problems facing humanity as we move into the heart of the twenty-first century. To see the full schedule and videos from previous events, visit the seminar series page. For more information, contact Assistant Professor of Social Sciences Hao Huang at

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