Income-based inequality in post-disaster migration is lower in high resilience areas: Evidence from U.S. internal migration

Ted Hsuan Yun Chen*, Boyoon Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)


Residential relocation following environmental disasters is an increasingly necessary climate change adaptation measure. However, relocation is among the costliest individual-level adaptation measures, meaning that it may be cost prohibitive for disadvantaged groups. As climate change continues to worsen, it is important to better understand how existing socioeconomic inequalities affect climate migration and how they may be offset. In this study we use network regression models to look at how internal migration patterns in the United States vary by disaster-related property damage, household income, and local-level disaster resilience. Our results show that post-disaster migration patterns vary considerably by the income level of sending and receiving counties, which suggests that income-based inequality impacts both individuals' access to relocation and the ability of disaster-afflicted areas to rebuild. We further find evidence that income-based inequality in post-disaster outmigration is attenuated in areas with higher disaster resilience, not due to increased relocation out of poorer areas but instead because there is decreased relocation from richer ones. This finding suggests that, as climate adaptation measures, relocation and resilience-building are substitutes, with the implication that resilience incentivizes in situ adaptation, which can be a long term drain on individual wellbeing and climate adaptation resources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number034043
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • climate change adaptation
  • climate migration
  • disaster resilience
  • inequality
  • network analysis


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