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Climate variability and international migration: The importance of the agricultural linkage

Author

Listed:
  • Cai, Ruohong
  • Feng, Shuaizhang
  • Oppenheimer, Michael
  • Pytlikova, Mariola

Abstract

While there is considerable interest in understanding the climate–migration relationship, particularly in the context of concerns about global climatic change, little is known about its underlying mechanisms. In the paper, we combine a rich panel data on annual bilateral international migration flows with an extensive data on climate variability across the countries to investigate in-depth the climate–migration link. We find a positive and statistically significant relationship between temperature and international outmigration only in the most agriculture-dependent countries, consistent with the widely documented adverse impact of temperature on agricultural productivity. Further, the temperature–migration relationship is nonlinear and resembles the nonlinear temperature–yield relationship. In addition, migration flows to current major destinations are especially temperature-sensitive. Policies to address issues related to climate-induced international migration would be more efficient if focused on the agriculture-dependent countries and especially people in those countries whose livelihoods depend on agriculture.

Suggested Citation

  • Cai, Ruohong & Feng, Shuaizhang & Oppenheimer, Michael & Pytlikova, Mariola, 2016. "Climate variability and international migration: The importance of the agricultural linkage," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 135-151.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:79:y:2016:i:c:p:135-151
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2016.06.005
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    International migration; Temperature; Agricultural productivity; Nonlinear effect;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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