Migration as a Vector of Economic Losses From Disaster-Affected Areas in the United States

Jack Dewaard, Elizabeth Fussell, Katherine J. Curtis, Stephan D. Whitaker, Kathryn McConnell, Kobie Price, Michael Soto, Catalina Anampa Castro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We introduce the consideration of human migration into research on economic losses from extreme weather disasters. Taking a comparative case study approach and using data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York/Equifax Consumer Credit Panel, we document the size of economic losses attributable to migration from 23 disaster-affected areas in the United States before, during, and after some of the most costly hur­ri­canes, tor­na­does, and wild­fires on record. We then employ demo­graphic stan-dard­i­za­tion and decom­po­si­tion to deter­mine if these losses pri­mar­ily reflect changes in out-migra tion or the eco nomic resources that migrants take with them. Finally, we con sider the impli ca tions of these losses for chang ing spa tial inequal ity in the United States. While disas ter-affected areas and their pop u la tions differ in their ­expe­ri­ences of and responses to extreme weather disas­ters, we gen­er­ally find that, relative to the year before an extreme weather disaster, economic losses via migration from disaster-affected areas increase the year of and after the disaster, these changes pri­mar­ily reflect changes in out-migra­tion (vs. the eco­nomic resources that migrants take with them), and these losses briefly dis­rupt the sta­tus quo by tem­po­rar­ily reduc­ing spatial inequality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-199
Number of pages27
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This work is part of the projects “Extreme Weather Disasters, Economic Losses via Migration, and Widening Spatial Inequality” and “Analysis of Impacts of Environmental and Natural Hazards on Human Migration,”funded by the National Science Foundation (awards 1850871 and 2117405, respectively), and the project “Demographic Responses to Natural Resource Changes,” funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health (award 5R03HD095014-02). This work is also supported by center grant P2C HD041023 awarded to the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota, center grant P2C HD041020 awarded to the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University, and center grant P2C HD047873 awarded to the Center for Demography and Ecology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison by the NICHD.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors.


  • Climate
  • Disaster
  • Losses
  • Migration
  • Vector


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