, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 265-275

Demographic effects of natural disasters: a case study of hurricane andrew*

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Many studies have considered the economic, social, and psychological effects of hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and other natural disasters, but few have considered their demographic effects. In this paper we describe and evaluate a method for measuring the effects of Hurricane Andrew on the housing stock and population distribution in Dade County, Florida. Using information collected through sample surveys and from other data sources, we investigate the extent of housing damages, the number of people forced out of their homes, where they went, how long they stayed, and whether they returned to their prehurricane residences. We conclude that more than half the housing units in Dade County were damaged by Hurricane Andrew; that more than 353,000 people were forced to leave their homes, at least temporarily; and that almost 40,000 people left the county permanently as a direct result of the hurricane. We believe that this study will provide methodological guidance to analysts studying the demographic effects of other large-scale natural disasters.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the Florida Legislature. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 1995 annual meetings of the Population Association of America, held in San Francisco.