Do Migration Systems Predict Post-Disaster Migration Patterns?: The Case of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Counties before and after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Katherine J. Curtis, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Elizabeth Fussell, Washington State University
Jack DeWaard, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Climate change is expected to affect coastal populations by increasing the intensity and frequency of coastal weather events and by inundating coastal areas as a result of sea-level rise. Coastal populations are likely to respond to these changes in their environment by intensifying their existing migration to areas which have not been similarly affected. In our research we test four hypotheses about climate-driven migration for the coastal counties of the Gulf of Mexico states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida by examining annual county-level migration flows between 2000 and 2010. This data spans the extremely active and destructive 2005 hurricane season, which included Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, both of which struck Louisiana whose marshy coastline is extremely vulnerable to land loss. This analysis provides a valuable example of how migration systems are likely to be affected by climate change with implications for the destinations of environmental migrants.

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Presented in Session 93: Demographic Dimensions of Climate Change