Skip to main content

The Effect of Disasters on Migration Destinations: Evidence from Hurricane Katrina

Abstract

While post-disaster migration can move vulnerable populations from dangerous regions to relatively safe ones, little is known about decisions that migrants use to select new homes. We develop an econometric model of migrant flows to examine the characteristics of the destinations that attracted migrants leaving the New Orleans area following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 relative to migration behaviors in other years. We find an increased flow of migrants to large, nearby counties with a mixed effect of economic variables on migration. We find that counties that had experienced fewer disasters received a greater proportion of total migrants in 2005, but there was an overall increase in migration flow to disaster-prone regions as well.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. While Louisiana is organized into parishes rather than counties, we will use the term counties throughout this paper to facilitate discussion of destination locations.

  2. Inclusion of the counties affected by Hurricane Katrina into the dataset would result in an increased preference for close destinations in non-hurricane years but a decreased preference for close destinations in 2005. This would falsely suggest that migrants do not care about distance after disasters, when the decrease in migration is actually driven by a change in the attractiveness of the nearby counties.

  3. There are 3,144 counties and county equivalents in the U.S. and affected counties are removed from the set of potential destination counties as well as any counties for which explanatory variables are unavailable.

  4. We thank an anonymous referee for this suggestion.

  5. The results do not appreciably change if a destination county’s population is replaced by its population density.

References

  • Black R, Neil Adger W, Arnell NW, Dercon S, Geddes A, Thomas D (2011) The effect of environmental change on human migration. Glob Environ Chang 21:S3–S11. Elsevier

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Borjas GJ (1987) Self-selection and the earnings of immigrants. Amer Econ Rev 77(4):531–53

    Google Scholar 

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017a) Local Area Unemployment Statistics

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017b) Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages

  • Chiswick BR (1999) Are immigrants favorably self-selected?. Amer Econ Rev 89 (2):181–85. JSTOR

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Department of Housing and Urban Development (2017) Fair Market Rents

  • Elliott JR, Pais J (2006) Race, class, and hurricane katrina: social differences in human responses to disaster. Soc Sci Res 35(2):295–321. Elsevier

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (2017) OpenFEMA Dataset: Open Fema Data Sets - V1

  • Fielding AJ (2011) The impacts of environmental change on uk internal migration. Glob Environ Chang 21:S121–S130. Elsevier

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Findlay AM (2011) Migrant destinations in an era of environmental change. Glob Environ Chang 21:S50–S58. Elsevier

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fussell E, Curtis KJ, DeWaard J (2014) Recovery migration to the city of new orleans after hurricane katrina: a migration systems approach. Popul Environ 35 (3):305–22. Springer

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gray C, Frankenberg E, Gillespie T, Sumantri C, Thomas D (2014) Studying displacement after a disaster using large-scale survey methods: sumatra after the 2004 tsunami. Ann Assoc Amer Geograph 104(3):594–612. Taylor & Francis

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gráda C, O’Rourke KH (1997) Migration as disaster relief: lessons from the great irish famine. Eur Rev Econ Hist 1(1):3–25. Oxford University Press

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Greenwood MJ (1975) Research on Internal Migration in the United States: A Survey. Journal of Economic Literature. JSTOR, 397–433

  • Greenwood MJ (1985) Human migration: theory, models, and empirical studies. J Reg Sci 25(4):521–44. Wiley Online Library

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Groen JA, Polivka AE (2008) Hurricane katrina evacuees: who they are, where they are, and how they are faring. Mon Labor Rev 131:32. HeinOnline

    Google Scholar 

  • Groen JA, Polivka AE (2010) Going home after hurricane katrina: determinants of return migration and changes in affected areas. Springer 47(4):821–44

    Google Scholar 

  • Internal Revenue Service (2017) Statistics of Income Tax Stats - Migration Data

  • McIntosh MF (2008) Measuring the labor market impacts of hurricane katrina migration: evidence from houston, texas. JSTOR 98(2):54–57

    Google Scholar 

  • McKenzie D, Rapoport H (2010) Self-selection patterns in mexico-us migration: the role of migration networks. MIT Press 92(4):811–21

    Google Scholar 

  • Nifo A, Vecchione G (2014) Do institutions play a role in skilled migration? The case of italy. Taylor & Francis 48(10):1628–49

    Google Scholar 

  • Rupasingha A, Liu Y, Partridge M (2015) Rural bound: determinants of metro to non-metro migration in the united states. Amer J Agric Econ 97(3):680–700. Oxford University Press

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (2017) Rural-Urban Continuum Codes

  • Weber L, Peek LA (2012) Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora. University of Texas Press, Texas

  • Yun SD, Waldorf BS (2016) The day after the disaster: forced migration and income loss after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. J Reg Sci 56(3):420–41. Wiley Online Library

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jonathan Eyer.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

(DOC 20.4 KB)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Eyer, J., Dinterman, R., Miller, N. et al. The Effect of Disasters on Migration Destinations: Evidence from Hurricane Katrina. EconDisCliCha 2, 91–106 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41885-017-0020-3

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s41885-017-0020-3

Keywords

  • Post-disaster migration
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Pull factors