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Climate variability, extreme weather events and international migration

[working paper]

Coniglio, Nicola D.; Pesce, Giovanni

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Corporate Editor Universität Bielefeld, Fak. für Soziologie, Centre on Migration, Citizenship and Development (COMCAD)
Abstract "Climate change and international migration flows are phenomena which attract a great deal of attention from policymakers, researchers and the general public around the globe. Are these two phenomena related? Is migration an adaptation strategy to sudden or gradual changes in climate? In this paper our aim is to investigate whether countries that are affected by climatic anomalies with respect to long-term mean experience, ceteris paribus, larger outmigration flows toward rich OECD countries in the period 1990-2001. Contrarily to the bulk of existing studies we use a macro approach and analyse the determinants of international bilateral migration flows employing an augmented gravity-like equation and test the relevance of climate anomalies with respect to long-term average temperature and precipitation. One important novelty in our approach is the explicit consideration in the empirical analysis of the heterogeneous nature of climate shocks, i.e. positive vs. negative variations of temperature and precipitations; non linear and threshold effects of climate shocks. Our results show that the occurrence of climate anomalies in origin countries might have heterogeneous impacts on cross-border outmigration flows depending on the type and size of the shocks and on certain socio-economic characteristics of the country (level of development, past immigration history, vulnerability of the agricultural sector). In general, countries with a higher level of development and with a growing share of irrigated agricultural land are less sensitive to climate anomalies. Interestingly we find that the existence of a network of established migrants plays a complex role. In fact, in case of certain climate shocks - such as non-extreme temperature anomalies and positive precipitation anomalies of large size - networks makes origin countries more resilient to climate shocks; hence they help affected countries to cope with climate shocks (for instance through remittance inflows as documented in other studies). We also find that in case of other climatic events - negative precipitation anomalies and extreme temperature anomalies – the existence of a large network of migrants is positively related with the subsequent size of international migration outflow. Although the analysis conducted is far from being conclusive on the complex relationship between climate change and migration, it offers interesting insights and calls for complementary methodological approaches." [author's abstract]
Keywords climate change; government; social security; displacement; living conditions; environment; migration; migration research; natural disaster; adaptation; assistance
Classification Migration, Sociology of Migration; Social Problems; Ecology, Environment
Document language English
Publication Year 2011
City Bielefeld
Page/Pages 28 p.
Series COMCAD Working Papers, 92
Status Published Version
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
data provider This metadata entry was indexed by the Special Subject Collection Social Sciences, USB Cologne