The Migratory Pull of Natural Hazards: With Special Attention to Foreign-Born Latinos in the United States

James R. Elliott, University of Oregon
Elizabeth Fussell, Washington State University

Most research on natural hazards and migration focuses understandably on the displacement of vulnerable subpopulations in extreme cases. Yet, this line of research downplays two important points: that, extreme cases are part of a wider continuum of regularly occurring hazards; and, that these hazards can pull as well as push migrants, including those from vulnerable subpopulations. To illuminate these dynamics and build fuller understanding of the demography of natural hazards, we offer the first nationwide analysis of relationships between local economic losses from natural hazards and internal migration. Results reveal that costly damages from natural hazards exert a strong migratory pull; that this pull tends to draw foreign-born Latinos at higher rates than native-born whites to particular types of areas; that this pull is widespread among group members; and, that it tends to lead to the same types of jobs typically found elsewhere, not to lasting concentration in blue-collar, recovery jobs.

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Presented in Session 43: Demography of Disasters I