International Migration Responses to Natural Disasters: Evidence from Modern Europe's Most Destructive Earthquake
53 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2020 Last revised: 10 Apr 2022
Date Written: July 2020
The Messina-Reggio Calabria Earthquake (1908) was the most devastating natural disaster in modern European history. It occurred when overseas mass emigration from southern Italy was at its peak and international borders were open, making emigration a readily available option for relief. We use this event to study the effects of natural disasters on international migration. We find that there was no large positive impact on emigration on average. There were, however, heterogeneous responses, with a more positive effect where agricultural day laborers comprised a larger share of the labor force, suggesting that attachment to the land limited an emigration response.
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