Hurricane Maria sent Puerto Ricans fleeing from the island to the U.S. mainland, but population surveys to assess the size of that migration would have taken at least a year to complete. A new study suggests, however, that a Facebook tool for advertisers could provide crude, real-time estimates for how many people are moving because of a natural disaster. That could help governments design policies to assist those displaced people.
The Facebook data revealed that, from October 2017 to January 2018, the Puerto Rican population on the mainland increased by some 17 percent, or about 185,200 residents. That would imply a 5.6 percent decrease in the population living the U.S. Caribbean territory.
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Facebook data show how many people left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria
— CaliRican (@CaliRicans) May 6, 2019