Migration and Natural Disasters: Evidence from the Past

This is my first post at Legal Planet and I’m happy to be here.  I’m an environmental economist at UCLA and I’m proud to hold a courtesy appointment at UCLA Law School.   In this brief post, I want to advertise a new paper of mine.   Leah Boustan, Paul Rhode and I look at young men’s migration patterns within the United States during the time period 1920 to 1930 and from 1935 to 1940.   This is a time period when natural disasters were taking place in specific geographic areas such as the Southern Middle of the country and we study whether such shocks attract or repel young people.   During the 1930s, the New Deal was enacted and it started allocating pretty serious amounts of $ to shocked places.  Do people increasingly move to disaster areas as the New Deal insures and rebuilds these places?  Does public investment in protection displace private self protection?    This economic history paper may have some lessons for climate change adaptation today and I will return to this topic.  As you know, economists love to write papers about unintended consequences of well meaning policies.  Such empirical work should improve public policy because the policy makers should anticipate these secondary consequences.