Extreme Weather Disasters, Economic Losses via Migration, and Widening Spatial Inequality in the U.S.

Professor Jack DeWaard, head and shoulders, in tan jacket in front of wooden fence.

MPC Member and Assistant Professor of Sociology Jack DeWaard has been awarded an NSF grant (SES - 1850871) for a new project entitled "Extreme Weather Disasters, Economic Losses via Migration, and Widening Spatial Inequality in the U.S." DeWaard and Co-PIs Katherine Curtis (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Elizabeth Fussel (Brown University) aim to conduct the first study of what they call economic losses via migrationfrom affected areas after extreme weather disasters in the U.S. Learn more about this exciting new project. [link to full story, this paragraph plus one below on the website]

In 2017, the U.S. set a new record of $313 billion in economic losses from sixteen billion dollar extreme weather disasters. Economic losses from extreme weather disasters are spatially concentrated in states like Florida and are remarkably stable over time. While there are many reasons that people stay in disaster-prone areas, others choose to migrate or are forced to leave, some temporarily and others permanently. As economic actors, migrants take with them myriad economic activities that constitute economic losses that have not been studied in previous research. This project will be the first to document the size of economic losses via migration from affected areas in the U.S. after extreme weather events. Because migration necessarily connects places to one another, the project will also document whether and to what extent such economic losses via migration contribute to changing spatial inequality in the U.S. as a whole. Project results will provide input into policies concerning how to mitigate the economic costs of extreme weather disasters in the U.S., thus contributing to disaster recovery and economic prosperity.