I’m currently researching household displacement due to disasters at University College London (UCL). My background is in structural engineering and I have over nine years of experience quantifying disaster risks. At the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation, I conducted earthquake risk assessment at the national and regional scales. At Arup, I was focused on the campus and building-specific scales, with an emphasis on modeling recovery after disasters.
Household displacement following disasters has become endemic in many areas worldwide, affecting at least 265 million people between 2008 and 2018. Although this figure includes short-term and potentially life-saving evacuations, there is ample evidence that not all households return after the emergency phase. Protracted displacement is associated with particularly negative consequences for the affected households and community. Yet, existing data on displacement duration are limited, and only a few disaster recovery models incorporate the multitude of factors beyond housing damage that are known to influence household return. This review synthesizes the current literature on disaster-induced displacement, including key terminology and context, the determinants of household return decisions, existing model-based approaches, and opportunities for future research.
In the aftermath of an earthquake, the number of occupants within destroyed housing is often used to approximate the number of people rendered homeless after the event. While this metric can provide rapid situational awareness, more recent research highlights the importance of additional factors beyond housing damage within the scope of household displacement (e.g., utility disruption, housing tenure, place attachment). This study models three recent earthquakes from different geographies (Haiti, Japan, and Nepal) to benchmark housing damage as a driver of population displacement against reported values and mobile location data-based estimates.