Comparing Weather-Related Hazards and Their Effects on Population Change in the United States, 1980–2012

Elizabeth Fussell , Brown University
Sara Curran, University of Washington, Seattle
Jacqueline Meijer-Irons, University of Washington, Seattle
Matt Dunbar, University of Washington, Seattle
LuAnne Thompson, University of Washington, Seattle

Environmental determinists predict that people move away from places experiencing costly weather hazards. To investigate how people adapt to or remain vulnerable to weather hazards, we must first understand the relationship between weather hazards, associated losses, and population change. We investigate whether the five costliest types of weather hazards and the losses resulting from them are associated with subsequent population change in U.S. counties between 1980 and 2012 using a spatial-temporal database that includes information on all U.S. counties that experienced a weather hazard during this time. The database allows for generalizable conclusions by accounting for heterogeneity in current and past weather events and losses and past population trends. Our research departs from previous social science research that treats hazard losses as equivalent. We find that hazard events and losses from some types of hazards (hurricanes and droughts) produce more population change than others (floods, hail and tornadoes).


 Presented in Session 106. Empirical Assessments of Linked Human-Ecological Adaptive Responses to Climate Change