Simulating natural disasters - A complex systems framework

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


This paper summarizes the SHELscape model, a complex systems framework developed for understanding economic transitions after natural disasters. The model is spatially defined with two agent categories (workers and owners) across two region types (rural and urban) producing two types of goods (food and a tradeable good). Seven behavioral modules define the setup of a low-income agrarian economy. A stylized calibrated system is subjected to a food production shock and changes of population, incomes, and consumption distributions are tracked. Coping mechanisms result in temporary consumption smoothing through savings; however, a large majority of the population still falls below the consumption poverty line. Two policy options, a cash transfer and a food transfer scheme, and their effects on the region are tested. Results show that income transfers result in higher income inequality while the food transfer scheme increases the rate of savings growth. The aim of this paper is to highlight how an agent-based framework can be used to study complex systems especially when data is weak and an immediate policy response is required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414
JournalIEEE Computational Intelligence for Financial Engineering & Economics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014

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