International Handbook on the Economics of Migration
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International Handbook on the Economics of Migration

Edited by Amelie F. Constant and Klaus F. Zimmermann

Migration economics is a dynamic, fast-growing research area with significant and rising policy relevance. While its scope is continually extending, there is no authoritative treatment of its various branches in one volume. Written by 44 leading experts in the field, this carefully commissioned and refereed Handbook brings together 28 state-of-the-art chapters on migration research and related issues.
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Chapter 17: Natural disasters and migration

Ariel R. Belasen and Solomon W. Polachek


Climatic and weather-related events have long shaped migration patterns on Earth. From tectonic shifts to meteors to hurricanes and tsunamis, life on Earth has long been subject to unexpected changes in its surroundings and had to adapt. While earlier inhabitants of Earth, such as the dinosaurs, were unable to cope with such natural disasters, more recently humanity has found ways to withstand the elements via construction of solid shelters. But even some of the most well-built cities have fallen victim to natural disasters, forcing their populations to either flee or suffer the consequences. Sometimes such disasters are caused by human activity as in the string of ghost towns along the Aral Sea following the rerouting of waterways. Other times unforeseen natural disasters can cause similar shifts in population, such as the combination of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 2005 in which 300 000 people sought refuge in nearby states. In this chapter we examine the implications of natural disasters on communities and differentiate between them based on magnitude, level of development for the impacted region and a number of additional factors.

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