Treading Water: Climate Gentrification in Miami Dade County

Authors: Han Li*, University of Miami, Richard Grant, University of Miami
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Sustainability Science
Keywords: Sea-level Rise; Flood Risk; Climate Gentrification; Housing Price; Miami
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 6
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Climate change and sea-level rise are beginning to reshape the urban landscape, altering people's economic behavior and residential patterns. As part of this transition, climate gentrification has been popularized in the media, while academic research on the phenomenon is still at a nascent stage of inquiry. Based on the open data from Zillow.com, this paper examines whether concerns of sea-level rise are compelling homebuyers to favor higher-ground or not. We find that homebuyers' awareness of sea-level rise only partially explains the current trend of climate gentrification in Miami-Dade County. The inclination toward high-elevated homes is more likely to reflect a rational economic investment motivation coupled with investors' perception of flood risk, rather than sea-level rise itself. Primary sources of risk perception rely heavily on flood insurance required by FEMA and the historical record of flooding, rather than elevation, academic projections of sea-level rise and storm surges. Moreover, different from European cities, sophisticated and well-educated homebuyers show fewer concerns about sea-level rise and climate change in Miami. Thus, our study suggests that the assessment of sea-level rise should be mandated for inclusion into homebuyer contracts in US coastal cities.

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