Study: Pandemic will Result in Millions Wanting to Move
Wars and diseases may be the most dramatic triggers for seeking a new place to live, but they’re not the only ones. Prokopenko says even the constant stream of news about unsettling events can push people to consider leaving town.
“Epidemics are examples of wider contagion phenomena which also include social segregation, ‘infodemics’ – waves of misinformation, and social unrest,” explains Prokopenko. “Our theoretical modelling suggested that, when faced with either threat or opportunity, people tend to avoid risks, seek an advantage, or both.”
The study, published in Scientific Reports, adds that more recent crises like the Syrian civil war and the Ebola virus outbreak in 2015-16 triggered similar migration events. Unlike Ebola, which affected a small portion of the world, researchers believe the global reach of COVID-19 will spark a wave of similar decisions among residents in many countries.
“We showed that large-scale collective behaviors, such as migration, can result from very small changes in human decision-making” says study author Nathan Harding.
Harding adds even minor re-assessments about your safety, your financial well-being, or your health can lead to a “tipping point” in terms of deciding to resettle somewhere else.