Population of Puerto Rico not displaced by Hurricanes (for now): It's the economy [post]

Matt Kaneshiro, Collin McCarter, Mario Marazzi-Santiago, Alexis R Santos-Lozada
2019 unpublished
In September 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico and caused $102 billion worth of damage, demolishing the electric grid and severely impacting essential daily services that continue as of the writing of this paper. Amidst the chaos, analysts are left with few high-quality data options while making hasty estimates that have far-reaching financial impacts on resource allocation and bond prices. This paper examines historical demographic and economic data to give a long-term view of
more » ... population change of Puerto Rico. First, we juxtapose population, employment, hurricanes, and significant economic events and argue that the clearest driver of population decline in Puerto Rico is simply the economic health of the island (i.e. employment). Second, focus on Pre- and Post-Hurricane Irma/Maria outmigration over recent history, highlighting the spike in out-migration immediately following past hurricanes which then are followed by return-migration. Finally, we study net outmigration and employment trends and illustrate the short-lived out-migration impacts of hurricanes while also highlighting the long-term out-migration impacts of economic downturns. In short, we argue that Puerto Ricans are not displaced by hurricanes; they are displaced by the struggling economy, and any serious plans for Puerto Rico's restoration must include special attention to stimulating the economy.
doi:10.31235/osf.io/3frzu fatcat:tbriioge35a53gfkqjz7dmstn4