Predicting Future Migration Destinations from Natural Disasters: The Great East Japan Earthquake

Mathew E. Hauer, University of Georgia
Steven R. Holloway, University of Georgia

Environmentally induced migration has a long history within the demographic literature but only recently have there been calls to better understand the geographic implications in the origin and destinations of these migrants. Many previous analyses tend to rely solely on statistical approaches rather than geostatistical approaches and analyze migrants and evacuees together. Using both statistical and geostatistical analyses and using separate data on migrants and evacuees, here we show the presence of two separate and distinct migration systems after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Post-disaster migration from the three most adversely affected prefectures-- Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi-- is largely identical to pre-disaster migration, suggesting a stability in the system. Evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture exhibited a spatially concentrated migration pattern. Our results demonstrate that past migration systems can potentially be used to predict future emigrations from environmental stressors, an increasingly important finding given the anticipated population displacements due to climate change.

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Presented in Session 31: Environmental Migration