Working Paper

Residential responses to cyclones: New evidence from Australia

Climate change is significantly impacting societies worldwide, with natural disasters like cyclones/hurricanes/typhoons posing a growing threat. Extensive research explores the social and economic consequences of these events, with a particular focus on the link between natural disasters and migration patterns. Acknowledging the distinct nature and impacts of different disasters, a growing body of research investigates the specific relationship between cyclones and migration. While much of this research focuses on developing countries, where cyclones can trigger both domestic and international migration, studies on developed nations remain scarce. This study pioneers a comprehensive causal analysis of cyclone impacts on residential outcomes among Australian individuals.

Drawing upon over two decades of nationally representative longitudinal data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, coupled with historical cyclone records, individual fixed effects models uncover substantial increases in reported home damage. Planned relocation intentions and actual migration experiences show moderate increases, particularly in cases of higher cyclone severity and proximity. Additionally, these cyclones prompt individuals to acknowledge the significance of home-related insurance and actively seek coverage. Alongside long-distance domestic migration, insurance acquisition emerges as another alternative coping mechanism, effectively mitigating future repair costs. Extensive heterogeneity analyses reveal that the choice among these coping strategies depends on factors such as cyclone severity, age, prior homeownership, income, insurance coverage, rural/urban residence, coastal proximity, and community cyclone history. Moreover, the study identifies home damage from cyclones as a key factor driving observed migration patterns.

Our findings hold important implications for policies and strategies aimed at mitigating the damaging impacts of future cyclones. They emphasize the need for targeted support and resilience-building strategies in vulnerable groups and regions. Recognizing this previously unidentified vulnerability requires reevaluating existing risk perception and adaptation frameworks. Policymakers should prioritize investing in disaster preparedness initiatives tailored separately to historically cyclone-free and cyclone-prone regions, focusing on enhancing public awareness and community resilience. Simultaneously, targeted socio-economic support might be crucial for assisting displaced individuals and facilitating their reintegration into new communities. Ultimately, incorporating this novel insight into policy planning can potentially empower communities to better withstand the disruptive forces of future cyclones.


Nguyen, H.T., & Mitrou, F. (2024). ‘Residential responses to cyclones: New evidence from Australia’, Life Course Centre Working Paper Series, 2024-10. Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland. DOI: 10.14264/4236681