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Productivity slumps when lightning strikes

Lightning strikes cause havoc as our dependence on technology grows, say University of Copenhagen economists in US study

Economic productivity depends on the weather. This is the conclusion reached by four economists from the University of Copenhagen who have studied how lightning affects regional economies in the US, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Thomas Andersen, Jeanet Bentzen, Carl-Johan Dalgaard and Pablo Selaya found that the US states more prone to lightning strikes tended to see productivity grow more slowly than in states with little lightning.

Less lightning = more computers

The study showed that internet and computer use spreads more quickly in areas less prone to electrical storms, boosting productivity in these areas. The trend holds true even when the economists considered a range of other factors, including hurricane frequency and the education, age and racial characteristics of inhabitants in the region.

This lightning effect did not exist prior to the 1990’s. In the information age lightning can cause havoc in ways not previously seen, the authors of the study speculate. A power surge no longer causes a mere flickering of the lights but can now corrupt computer data, shut down servers and destroy phone systems, effectively closing down businesses without back up generators.