Abstract: We examine the average causal impact of catastrophic natural disasters on economic growth by combining information from comparative case studies. For each country affected by a large disaster, we compute the counterfactual by constructing synthetic controls. We find that only extremely large disasters have a negative effect on output in both the short and the long runs. However, we also show that this results from two events where radical political revolutions followed the disasters. Once we control for these political changes, even extremely large disasters do not display any significant effect on economic growth. {\copyright} 2013 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.