Natural Disasters and Population Mobility in Bangladesh

Clark Gray, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Valerie Mueller, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

We investigate the consequences of climate-related natural disasters for population mobility in rural Bangladesh, a region particularly vulnerable to environmental change, using longitudinal survey data from 1,800 households spanning a 15-year period. Multivariate event history models are used to estimate the effects of flooding and crop failures on local population mobility and long-distance migration while controlling for a large set of potential confounders. The results indicate that flooding has modest effects on mobility that are most visible at moderate intensities and for women and the poor. However, crop failures unrelated to flooding have strong effects on mobility, particularly for households that are not directly affected but live in severely affected areas. Together the results highlight both the importance and the complexity of environmental influences on human migration: Natural disasters can increase population mobility, but these effects vary across scales, types of events, and subpopulations.

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Presented in Session 191: Climate-Related Environmental Events and Population Displacement