Finding and Characterizing the Displaced: A Method Using Administrative Data

Jenna Nobles , University of Wisconsin-Madison
Nathan Seltzer, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In the aftermath of environmental disaster, documenting the welfare of affected populations serves goals in both policy and science arenas. Population displacement makes this task difficult, and sometimes impossible. We propose a method to document the welfare of the displaced that is inexpensive, quick-to-implement, and available whenever administrative data systems are minimally disrupted in areas neighboring sites of disaster or conflict. We use a series of Monte Carlo simulations to demonstrate when the method can be used. These simulations incorporate several varying dimensions, including disaster effect size, heterogeneity, and spillover; patterns of displacement; and features of the data available to the researcher. To further demonstrate the value of the approach, we apply the method to provide estimates of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on birth outcomes among displaced Gulf Coast residents.

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 Presented in Session 6. Climate Change and Migration