Study detects US climate migration away from Atlantic Ocean. Poor are left behind.
Updated: Aug 9
Are Americans more likely to move in the wake of a climate disaster? The answer is clearly yes, according to a new paper by University of South Carolina researchers Tamara Sheldon and Crystal Zhan. Drawing on U.S. Census data, they found that U.S. households subject to hurricanes and flooding were 1.6% more likely to move locally and 0.7% more likely to leave the area completely. Although the measurable effect is small, over time and at scale it has huge implications for coastal communities — particularly for poorer residents, who are less likely to move given fewer resources, and especially in areas prone to repeat disasters, where local adaptation efforts may not be up to the task.
“I think a smarter policy is to get people to move away from high-risk areas,” Sheldon told The Post and Courtier. “I mean, build back better? Are they going to rebuild a similar structure that is going to flood again?”
Natural disasters such as hurricanes are one thing, powerful and palpable, but the imperceptibly pernicious effects of repeated flooding (or extreme heat, or wildfire smoke) may play an even larger role in the long-term health of one’s home or community.
At Climate Alpha, our Resilience Index™ and risk-adjusted real estate valuations can help government officials identify where local adaptation efforts will go the furthest — and where residents in harm’s way should move next.
Contact our team to learn more how our tools empower investors, developers, public officials — and soon homeowners — to discover tomorrow’s more resilient communities.