Effects of income inequality on evacuation, reentry and segregation after disasters

Takahiro Yabe, Satish V. Ukkusuri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Large-scale disasters often trigger mass evacuation due to significant damages to urban systems. Understanding the evacuation and reentry (return) process of affected individuals is crucial for disaster management. Moreover, measuring the heterogeneity in the individuals' post-disaster behavior with respect to their socio-economic characteristics is essential for policy making. Recent studies have used large-scale location datasets collected from mobile devices to analyze post-disaster mobility patterns. Despite the availability of such data and the societal importance of the problem, no studies have focused on how income inequality affects the equity in post-disaster mobility. To overcome these research gaps, we overlay mobility data with income information from census to quantify the effects of income inequality on evacuation and reentry behavior after disasters, and the resulting spatial income segregation. Spatio-temporal analysis using location data of more than 1.7 million mobile phone users from Florida affected by Hurricane Irma reveal significant effects of income inequality on evacuation behavior. Evacuees with higher income were more likely to evacuate from affected areas and reach safer locations with less damage on housing and infrastructure. These differences were common among evacuees from both inside and outside mandatory evacuation zones. As a result of such effects of inequality, significant spatial income segregation was observed in the affected areas. Insights on the effects of income inequality on post-disaster mobility and spatial segregation could contribute to policies that better address social equity in pre-disaster preparation and post-disaster relief.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102260
JournalTransportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
StatePublished - May 2020


  • Disaster resilience
  • Evacuation
  • Inequality
  • Mobile phone data
  • Social equity
  • Spatial segregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation
  • General Environmental Science


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