Natural disasters and population mobility in Bangladesh

  • Gray C
  • Mueller V
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The consequences of environmental change for human migration have gained increasing attention in the context of climate change and recent large-scale natural disasters, but as yet relatively few large-scale and quantitative studies have addressed this issue. We investigate the consequences of climate-related natural disasters for long-term population mobility in rural Bangladesh, a region particularly vulnerable to environmental change, using longitudinal survey data from 1,700 households spanning a 15-y 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 at various scales. 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 in which households that are not directly affected but live in severely affected areas are the most likely to move. These results point toward an alternate paradigm of disaster-induced mobility that recognizes the significant barriers to migration for vulnerable households as well their substantial local adaptive capacity.

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  • C. L. Gray

  • V. Mueller

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