Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Chair

Dr. Shahdad Naghshpour

Committee Chair Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 2

Dr. David Butler

Committee Member 2 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 3

Dr. Robert Pauly

Committee Member 3 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Committee Member 4

Dr. Joseph J. St. Marie

Committee Member 4 Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Abstract

This research provides insight into the impact of natural disasters as drivers of rural to urban migration in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Disasters of varying types are predicted to have differing impacts on the productive sectors of agriculture, industry, and services; which due to the concentration of the various productive sectors in either urban or rural areas, subsequently changes the urban-rural wage differential. Changes to the wage differential (as measured by the urban-rural income gap) are predicted to lead to movement between urban and rural areas until a new equilibrium wage is reached.

This dissertation first identifies a cut-off point for “large” disasters, where large is defined as having a substantial negative impact on the growth in GDP. The next question investigates whether the type of disaster economically impacts the sectors of agriculture, industry, and services in varying degrees. The third question examines changes to the urban-rural income gap in LAC countries as a result of the type of disaster. The final question analyzes rural to urban migration post-disaster in LAC countries. These macroeconomic analyses are conducted at the country-level using a fixed effects regression estimator.

Droughts, floods, storms, and wildfires negatively affect the growth in agricultural output in LAC countries, while industry is negatively affected by earthquakes. Floods, landslides, and wildfires are also inversely associated with output in industry. Earthquakes are associated with decreases in output in the services sector while floods are associated with increases.

Droughts and wildfires are associated with a decline in the relative position of rural incomes when compared to urban. Earthquakes are associated with a decrease in the relative strength of urban incomes when compared to rural. The urban-rural income gap is most likely a moderating factor between disasters and migration.

Migration peaks one to two years after a disaster. This dissertation concludes that there is support for the hypothesis that different types of disasters have differing impacts on the sectors of production, which in turn leads to changes in the urban-rural income gap, which subsequently plays a role in rural to urban migration.