Long-Term Mass Displacements—The Main Demographic Consequence of Nuclear Disasters?

David Karacsonyi, Kazumasa Hanaoka, Yelizaveta Skryzhevska

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Human history has witnessed several major disasters that have affected the economic, social and environmental conditions of their respective regions. The nuclear disaster of Chernobyl (1986, Ukraine, that time the Soviet Union) and Fukushima (2011, Japan) appears to be the most significant disasters in terms of negative outcomes produced for their population over a long time. Despite this, the analysis of the socio-economic outcomes of these disasters has attracted much less scientific attention than health or radiation-related issues (UNDP 2002a; Lehman and Wadsworth 2009, 2011). Although nuclear accidents are deemed to be rare events, the Fukushima disaster occurred only 25 years after Chernobyl. These disasters highlighted the need for a detailed long-term socio-economic analysis of these accidents to acquire sufficient knowledge to be applied when considering new construction sites for nuclear power facilities (Lehman and Wadsworth 2011). This chapter focuses on the problem of permanent resettlement resulting from nuclear disasters and its effects on regional demographic trajectories and spatial shifts. Based on the results of this study we argue that mass displacement after a nuclear disaster rather than the radiation itself has a much more significant impact on deteriorating health, natural reproduction and economic performance of the affected population. Furthermore, given the differences in radio-ecological conditions, reconstruction policy and the time framework, Fukushima may demonstrate demographic consequences that are different from the Chernobyl case.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Demography of Disasters
Subtitle of host publicationImpacts for Population and Place
EditorsDávid Karácsonyi, Andrew Taylor, Deanne Bird
PublisherSpringer, Cham
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-49920-4
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-49919-8
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


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