Economy replaces population despite climate risks

Ren's work also contributes to an effort A $17 million Penn State and Department of Energy interdisciplinary project It aims to understand how natural hazards create vulnerabilities and risks to society and how societies respond to and adapt to those risks.

„What we're really trying to do now is take this model and connect it to these other infrastructure projects to think about how are people's relative response rates going to change if there are changes in subsidies or policies or wages?” Ren said. „The initial response to departure may be greater, but feedback effects may moderate this effect.”

He said it usually happens around the United States after major hurricanes.

„People often wonder why people in these areas are left behind,” Wren said. „Intuitively for me as an economist, the answer is that feedback effects benefit some people. Typically, it's the wealthier households with the most demand that drive up house prices. If those households leave, they take the pressure off, which means rents go down. Now real wages are rising for people who are really disadvantaged.”

This event reduces the probability of exit.

„Then you add in government transfer payments that raise wages and encourage people to stay in particularly safe places,” he said.

Wren underscored the potential influence of climate change on these trends, while the current balance is based on existing information. As extreme weather events become more frequent and severe, coupled with an understanding of the associated risks, population trends may change in unexpected ways.

„Humans have never experienced such extreme heat, rapid and intense hurricanes, floods and sea-level rise consistently,” Wren said. „Historically, government policies have obscured the risks of living in some of these places, particularly flooding. As information begins to come in about what people can expect in the past 30 years, but not what to expect in the future, population trends may go in the other direction.”

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This research was supported by the US Department of Energy's Office of Science.

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