Risk and experience drive the importance of natural hazards for peoples’ mobility decisions

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Since global warming between 2 and 4.9 °C by 2100 is unlikely to be avoided, humans will have to live with and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Migration has long been touted as a strategy for adapting to climate change, but there is limited understanding of which aspects of climate change will have greatest influence on peoples’ decision to move somewhere they consider safer or stay somewhere safe. Here, we present results from two online surveys about mobility decisions from one low (Philippines) and one high (Australia) income country within the Asia-Pacific region with similar vulnerabilities to natural hazards. Online surveys with about 1100 respondents each were conducted in both countries. Results showed that natural hazards played a strong role in the mix of reasons for mobility, particularly in the Philippines. Sudden onset hazards had the greatest influence. Results of ordered probit models showed that the perception of personal damage from hazards was strongly positively associated with mobility decisions of respondents in both countries. Mobility decisions of people in Australia were further influenced by their experience with the specific hazards: those with greater experience of slow onset hazards were more likely, and those who had experience with sudden hazards less likely, to consider these when moving or staying somewhere. People in Australia might only react to sudden onset hazards with temporary relocation since experience had shown that they can adapt to them. This suggests that slow onset climate change related impacts such as heat waves and sea level rise, as well as environmental degradation and pollution, may have more sustained effects on long-term mobility than sudden events. In the Philippines, personal characteristics such as gender, income, and health had the greatest impact while experience with hazards had almost none.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1639-1654
Number of pages16
JournalClimatic Change
Early online date4 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


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