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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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    Cited by:

    1. Isabelle Chort, 2018. "Managing the impact of climate on migration: Evidence from Mexico," Post-Print hal-02405148, HAL.
    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. Michel Beine & Lionel Jeusette, 2018. "A Meta-Analysis of the Literature on Climate Change and Migration," CESifo Working Paper Series 7417, CESifo.
    4. 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.
    5. Klaiber, H. Allen, 2014. "Migration and household adaptation to climate: A review of empirical research," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 539-547.
    6. Fernando M. Arag'on & Francisco Oteiza & Juan Pablo Rud, 2019. "Climate Change and Agriculture: Subsistence Farmers' Response to Extreme Heat," Papers 1902.09204, arXiv.org, revised Feb 2019.
    7. Dimitri Defrance & Esther Delesalle & Flore Gubert, 2020. "Is migration drought-induced in Mali? An empirical analysis using panel data on Malian localities over the 1987-2009 period," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2020003, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    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. Isabelle Chort & Maëlys de la Rupelle, 2021. "Managing the Impact of Climate on Migration: Evidence from Mexico," THEMA Working Papers 2021-07, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
    12. Coxhead, Ian & Vu, Linh & Nguyen, Cuong, 2016. "Migration in Vietnam: New Evidence from Recent Surveys," MPRA Paper 70217, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. 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.
    14. Brinda Viswanathan & K S Kavi Kumar, 2013. "Rural Migration, Weather and Agriculture: Evidence from Indian Census Data," Working Papers id:5352, eSocialSciences.
    15. Torres, M. & Howitt, R. & Rodrigues, L., 2018. "Analyzing Climate Change Precipitation Effects on Irrigated Agriculture: Why Temporal Resolution Matters?," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 276947, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    16. Boustan, Leah Platt & Kahn, Matthew E. & Rhode, Paul W. & Yanguas, Maria Lucia, 2020. "The effect of natural disasters on economic activity in US counties: A century of data," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C).
    17. 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.
    18. K. S. Kavi Kumar & Brinda Viswanathan, 2013. "Influence Of Weather On Temporary And Permanent Migration In Rural India," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 4(02), pages 1-19.
    19. Ingrid Dallmann & Katrin Millock, 2016. "Climate Variability and Internal Migration: A Test on Indian Inter-State Migration," Post-Print halshs-00825807, HAL.
    20. 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.

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    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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