Hanna Schwank receives Reinhard Selten Award 2023


Hanna Schwank, member of ECONtribute and Assistant Professor of Economic History at the University of Bonn, receives the Reinhard Selten Award of the Verein für Socialpolitik (VfS). The prize is endowed with 3,000 euros. It is awarded to young researchers whose work is distinguished by its originality, the significance of the research question and a sound methodology. The award ceremony took place on 24 September during the annual meeting of the VfS in Regensburg.

Hanna received the award for her work on “Disruptive Effects of Natural Disasters: The 1906 San Francisco Fire.” She uses the example of the earthquake and resulting fires, which killed around 3,000 people, to illustrate the impact of natural disasters on the population. Her study is based on US census data. It looks at residents and their children in the affected areas from 1900 to 1940.

For those affected, the consequences were far-reaching: they lost jobs, were more likely to take jobs in lower-paying industries, moved away from San Francisco, and their children received less education.

Most of these effects normalised over time and were no longer measurable. However, the impact on the self-employment, especially self-employment with own employees, was still significant in 1940. Schwank thus contradicts the ‘reversal of fortune’ theory found in other studies – notably in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She argues: “Disaster relief and its aftermath should be looked at region by region.”

“On behalf of the cluster, we congratulate Hanna on this great award! Her work makes an important contribution to the analysis and assessment of economic and social costs, especially in view of the increasing number of natural disasters in Europe,” said Thomas Dohmen, spokesperson for ECONtribute in Bonn.

Katrin Tholen

PR Manager

M katrin.tholen@uni-bonn.de