Internal Displacement Risk (IDR)

IDR will examine the direct and indirect economic effects of internal displacement by using applied systems analysis and economic models, while focusing specifically on recent instances of displacement. 

Fishman64 | Shutterstock

Fishman64 | Shutterstock

The last 15 years have seen a substantial increase in the number of people internally displaced by conflict and disasters combined, with over 8.6 million people fleeing armed conflict, and 19.2 persons recorded as newly displaced by disasters in 2015 alone (Global Report on Internal Displacement (IDMC)). With increasing climate and disaster risk, continued protracted crises and conflicts in many regions of the world, and persistently high levels of inequality and vulnerability of populations in countries marked by weak governance, these numbers cannot be expected to go down. While the humanitarian needs of displaced people are of overriding concern to the international community, a long-term reversal of current trends will require addressing the underlying drivers of displacement, which are economic, political and environmental in nature.

Demonstrating the economic costs that internal displacement has on national governments and host communities could present the greatest potential for generating the political will required to address and reduce the phenomenon. However, the economic case for displacement as a development concern for national governments and the international community is yet to be made. Furthermore, studies that reveal where humanitarian and development investment can have the greatest impact are greatly needed to ensure that the limited resources available to address internal displacement are invested toward achieving durable solutions. 

Through the proposed research, IDMC and IIASA will assess the direct and indirect impacts of internal displacement by adopting a multifaceted approach that combines IIASA’s expertise, critical analysis, and IDMC’S comprehensive data collection methodologies that will use applied systems analysis and economic models to review and assess the economic impacts of displacement (for example IIASA’s SHELscape and CATSIM framework). This study will add to existing research and literature on the topic by focusing on new displacement, or displacement incidents, in a given year across at least 100 countries. The study will explore the costs incurred due to lost productivity or the disruptions to labor markets, supply of goods and services, or similar economic impacts of displacement. A range of socio-economic indicators that could act as proxies for immediate impact and cost will also be reviewed and tested.

The research will complement existing analyses by integrating rarely captured time series data to assess changing impacts and costs over time. In addition, the study will expand the scope of IIASA-IDMC’s disaster-displacement risk model to calculate costs of projected future displacement risk while considering the impacts of a range of policy options. As such, the study will pilot research methodologies that, with additional resourcing, can later be transformed into interactive decision-support tools for policy-makers. Drawing from this, new research on the risk of disaster-induced displacement can also provide the basis to highlight the scale of potential displacement costs in relation to government investment. Given the current scale of internal displacement worldwide, this information and analysis will be central to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other global policy ambitions.

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Last edited: 05 December 2017


Reinhard Mechler

Research Group Leader and Senior Research Scholar Systemic Risk and Resilience Research Group - Advancing Systems Analysis Program

Asjad Naqvi

Research Scholar Exploratory Modeling of Human-natural Systems Research Group - Advancing Systems Analysis Program


December 2017 - December 2018

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313