11 December 2019
Vienna, Austria

The double-edged sword of learning from disasters

IIASA researcher Raya Muttarak and Jesus Crespo Cuaresma will particiate at a discussion at the Vienna University of Economics and Business.

© Victorass88 / Dreamstime.com

© Victorass88 / Dreamstime.com

Floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis: While the frequency of natural disasters has increased rapidly since records began, the casualty rate has sunk dramatically. Why? Rising prosperity and improved infrastructure have curtailed the risks associated with natural disasters, but can we really keep nature under control? Modern disaster prevention measures make the risks appear manageable: Dams, for example, allow us to build settlements in at-risk areas below sea level. But this apparent security can be deceptive: The most catastrophic natural disasters don’t happen in the most high-risk areas, but rather in those areas where major risks are considered to be under control, but the preventative measures in place prove to be no match for the forces of nature. Are we unintentionally making natural disasters even more dangerous with our actions? And how should policy makers react?

These questions will be discussed at an event in the framework of the WU matters. WU talks. series at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) on 11 December 2019 moderated by IIASA's World Population Program (POP) researcher Raya Muttarak. The two discussants will be POP scientist Jesus Crespo Cuaresma, and Thomas Plümper from the WU.

In her research at IIASA, Muttarak focuses on the intersection of social inequality, differential vulnerability and environmental change. Her research has recently been published in Science and Nature.

Crespo Cuaresma is working on applied macroeconometrics, economic growth, forecasting, business cycle research, and monetary and fiscal policy. He joined IIASA in 2006 to work on a new project on Human Capital and Economic Growth.

Event details

Title: The double-edged sword of learning from disasters

Date: 11 December 2019, 6PM

Location: Festsaal 1, Campus WU, Gebäude LC, Festsaal 1  

For more information and registration please visit the event website.

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Last edited: 12 December 2019


Raya Muttarak

Program Director:Acting Research Group Leader

Population and Just Societies Program|Migration and Sustainable Development Research Group

T +43(0) 2236 807 329

Jesus Crespo Cuaresma

Research Scholar

Migration and Sustainable Development Research Group

T +43(0) 2236 807 513

Research at IIASA's World Population Program


Muttarak, R. (2021). Demographic perspectives in research on global environmental change. IIASA Working Paper. Laxenburg, Austria: WP-21-001

Dimitrova, A. & Muttarak, R. (2020). After the floods: Differential impacts of rainfall anomalies on child stunting in India. Global Environmental Change 64, e102130. 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2020.102130.

Liang, S., Yang, X., Qi, J., Wang, Y., Xie, W., Muttarak, R. , & Guan, D. (2020). CO2 Emissions Embodied in International Migration from 1995 to 2015. Environmental Science & Technology 54 (19), 12530-12538. 10.1021/acs.est.0c04600.

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