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Soc Sci Med. 2012 Apr;74(7):1130-8. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.12.034. Epub 2012 Feb 6.

Project-induced displacement, secondary stressors, and health.

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  • 1Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.


It has been estimated that about 15 million people are displaced by development projects around the world each year. Despite the magnitude of people affected, research on the health and other impacts of project-induced displacement is rare. This study extends existing knowledge by exploring the short-term health impact of a large scale population displacement resulting from China's Three Gorges Dam Project. The study is theoretically guided by the stress process model, but we supplement it with Cernea's impoverishment risks and reconstruction (IRR) model widely used in displacement literature. Our panel analysis indicates that the displacement is associated positively with relocatees' depression level, and negatively with their self-rated health measured against a control group. In addition, a path analysis suggests that displacement also affects depression and self-rated health indirectly by changing social integration, socioeconomic status, and community resources. The importance of social integration as a protective mechanism, a factor that has been overlooked in past studies of population displacement, is highlighted in this study.

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