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Climate Change, Inequality, and Human Migration

Author

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  • Burzynski, Michal
  • de Melo, Jaime
  • Deuster, Christoph
  • Docquier, Frédéric

Abstract

This paper investigates the long-term implications of climate change on local, interregional, and international migration of workers. For nearly all of the world's countries, our micro-founded model jointly endogenizes the effects of changing temperature and sea level on income distribution and individual decisions about fertility, education, and mobility. Climate change intensifies poverty and income inequality creating favorable conditions for urbanization and migration from low- to high-latitude countries. Encompassing slow- and fast-onset mechanisms, our projections suggest that climate change will induce the voluntary and forced displacement of 100 to 160 million workers (200 to 300 million climate migrants of all ages) over the course of the 21st century. However, under current migration laws and policies, forcibly displaced people predominantly relocate within their country and merely 20% of climate migrants opt for long-haul migration to OECD countries. If climate change induces generalized and persistent conflicts over resources in regions at risk, we project significantly larger cross-border flows in the future.

Suggested Citation

  • Burzynski, Michal & de Melo, Jaime & Deuster, Christoph & Docquier, Frédéric, 2019. "Climate Change, Inequality, and Human Migration," CEPR Discussion Papers 13997, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13997
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    Cited by:

    1. Beine, Michel & Noy, Ilan & Parsons, Christopher, 2019. "Climate Change, Migration and Voice: An Explanation for the Immobility Paradox," IZA Discussion Papers 12640, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    climate change; Conflicts; inequality; migration; Urbanization;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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