New research even suggests that lightning's effect on technology can shape the course of regional economies. After analyzing lightning data for the lower 48 states, four economists from the University of Copenhagen found that those states more prone to lightning strikes tended to see worker productivity grow more slowly than in states with very little lightning.
This held true when the economists controlled for a range of other factors, including hurricane frequency, urban density and the education, age and racial characteristics of local populations.
The economists concluded that the use of computers and the Internet spread more quickly in areas less prone to lightning strikes, boosting worker output there. This lightning effect didn't exist prior to the 1990s, say researchers Thomas Andersen, Jeanet Bentzen, Carl-Johan Dalgaard and Pablo Selaya, when the advent of the Internet led to the rapid adoption of information technology in the U.S. and an accompanying surge in productivity.