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Climate Change, Crop Yields, and Internal Migration in the United States

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  • Shuaizhang Feng
  • Michael Oppenheimer
  • Wolfram Schlenker

Abstract

We investigate the link between agricultural productivity and net migration in the United States using a county-level panel for the most recent period of 1970-2009. In rural counties of the Corn Belt, we find a statistically significant relationship between changes in net outmigration and climate-driven changes in crop yields, with an estimated semi-elasticity of about -0.17, i.e., a 1% decrease in yields leads to a 0.17% net reduction of the population through migration. This effect is primarily driven by young adults. We do not detect a response for senior citizens, nor for the general population in eastern counties outside the Corn Belt. Applying this semi-elasticity to predicted yield changes under the B2 scenario of the Hadley III model, we project that, holding other factors constant, climate change would on average induce 3.7% of the adult population (ages 15-59) to leave rural counties of the Corn Belt in the medium term (2020-2049) compared to the 1960-1989 baseline, with the possibility of a much larger migration response in the long term (2077-2099). Since there is uncertainty about future warming, we also present projections for a range of uniform climate change scenarios in temperature or precipitation.

Suggested Citation

  • Shuaizhang Feng & Michael Oppenheimer & Wolfram Schlenker, 2012. "Climate Change, Crop Yields, and Internal Migration in the United States," NBER Working Papers 17734, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17734
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Richard Hornbeck, 2012. "The Enduring Impact of the American Dust Bowl: Short- and Long-Run Adjustments to Environmental Catastrophe," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1477-1507, June.
    2. Dimitri, Carolyn & Effland, Anne & Conklin, Neilson C., 2005. "The 20th Century Transformation of U.S. Agriculture and Farm Policy," Economic Information Bulletin 59390, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    3. Mendelsohn, Robert & Nordhaus, William D & Shaw, Daigee, 1994. "The Impact of Global Warming on Agriculture: A Ricardian Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 753-771, September.
    4. Wolfram Schlenker & W. Michael Hanemann & Anthony C. Fisher, 2005. "Will U.S. Agriculture Really Benefit from Global Warming? Accounting for Irrigation in the Hedonic Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 395-406, March.
    5. Marshall Burke & John Dykema & David Lobell & Edward Miguel & Shanker Satyanath, 2011. "Incorporating Climate Uncertainty into Estimates of Climate Change Impacts, with Applications to U.S. and African Agriculture," NBER Working Papers 17092, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Key, Nigel D. & Roberts, Michael J., 2007. "Do Government Payments Influence Farm Size and Survival?," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 32(02), August.
    7. Michael J. Roberts & Nigel Key, 2008. "Agricultural Payments and Land Concentration: A Semiparametric Spatial Regression Analysis," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(3), pages 627-643.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:uwp:landec:v:93:y:2017:i:4:p:631-653 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Chort, Isabelle & de la Rupelle, Maëlys, 2017. "Managing the Impact of Climate Change on Migration: Evidence from Mexico," GLO Discussion Paper Series 78, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    3. Brinda Viswanathan & K. S. Kavi Kumar, 2013. "Rural Migration, Weather and Agriculture: Evidence from Indian Census Data," Working Papers 2013-080, Madras School of Economics,Chennai,India.
    4. Robalino, Juan & Jimenez, José & Chacón, Adriana, 2015. "The Effect of Hydro-Meteorological Emergencies on Internal Migration," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 438-448.
    5. Jeremy G. Weber & Conor Wall & Jason Brown & Tom Hertz, 2015. "Crop Prices, Agricultural Revenues, and the Rural Economy," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 37(3), pages 459-476.
    6. 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.
    7. Klaiber, H. Allen, 2014. "Migration and household adaptation to climate: A review of empirical research," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 539-547.
    8. K.S. Kavi Kumar & Kamal Karunagoda & Enamul Haque & L. Venkatachelam & Girish Nath Bahal, 2012. "Addressing Long-term Challenges to Food Security and Rural Livelihoods in South Asia," Working Papers 2012-075, Madras School of Economics,Chennai,India.
    9. Ingrid Dallmann & Katrin Millock, 2013. "Climate Variability and Internal Migration: A Test on Indian Inter-State Migration," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 13045r, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne, revised Mar 2016.
    10. Dale T. Manning & Christopher Goemans & Alexander Maas, 2017. "Producer Responses to Surface Water Availability and Implications for Climate Change Adaptation," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 93(4), pages 631-653.
    11. Coxhead, Ian & Vu, Linh & Nguyen, Cuong, 2016. "Migration in Vietnam: New Evidence from Recent Surveys," MPRA Paper 70217, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. K. S. Kavi Kumar & Brinda Viswanathan, 2013. "Weather and Migration in India: Evidence from NSS Data," Working Papers 2013-079, Madras School of Economics,Chennai,India.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries
    • Q1 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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