Destruction from Above: Long-Term Legacies of the Tokyo Air Raids
74 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2019 Last revised: 10 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 9, 2020
What are the long-term effects of community-level destruction? We use historical aerial imagery of the aftermath of the United States’ indiscriminate firebombing of Tokyo during World War II to generate detailed new data on conditionally independent variation in neighborhood-level damages from the air raids. While existing studies based on larger geographical units in Japan and elsewhere find little evidence of persistent negative legacies of bombing campaigns on population outcomes or economic performance, our analysis with these fine-grained data reveals a more nuanced picture. Decades after the bombings, more heavily damaged neighborhoods continue to exhibit worse outcomes on several socioeconomic measures.
Keywords: historical legacies, World War II, Tokyo air raids, causal inference, geographic information systems (GIS), remote-sensing
JEL Classification: C80, D64, D74, I24, J64, K42, N35, N45
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