International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics > Vol 10 > Issue 1

Natural Disasters and Human Mobility

Linguère Mously Mbaye, African Development Bank Group, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire and IZA, Klaus F. Zimmermann, Harvard University and UNU — MERIT, USA,
Suggested Citation
Linguère Mously Mbaye and Klaus F. Zimmermann (2016), "Natural Disasters and Human Mobility", International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics: Vol. 10: No. 1, pp 37-56.

Publication Date: 23 Nov 2016
© 2016 L. Mously Mbaye and K. F. Zimmermann
Event studies/market efficiency studies,  Environmental Economics,  Labor Economics
JEL Codes: J61O15Q54Q56
Natural disastersForced migrationChannelsRemittancesMigration as insuranceFloodsEarthquakesDroughts


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In this article:
1. Introduction 
2. The Research Issue and Empirical Trends 
3. Natural Disasters and Migration: A Controversial Relationship 
4. Indirect Effects of Disasters on Migration: Exploring Transmission Channels 
5. Consequences of Migration Decisions Following Disasters: The Role of Remittances 
6. Concluding Remarks 


This paper reviews the effect of natural disasters on human mobility or migration. Although there is an increase in natural disasters and migration recently and more patterns to observe, the relationship remains complex. While some authors find that disasters increase migration, others show that they have only a marginal or no effect or are even negative. Human mobility appears to be an insurance mechanism against environmental shocks and there are different transmission channels which can explain the relationship between natural disasters and migration. Moreover, migrants' remittances help to decrease households' vulnerability to shocks but also dampen their adverse effects. This paper provides a discussion of policy implications and potential future research avenues.