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The Impact of Global Warming on Rural-Urban Migrations: Evidence from Global Big Data


  • Giovanni Peri
  • Akira Sasahara


This paper examines the impact of temperature changes on rural-urban migration using a 56km×56km grid cell level dataset covering the whole world at 10-year frequency during the period 1970-2000. We find that rising temperatures reduce rural-urban migration in poor countries and increase such migration in middle-income countries. These asymmetric migration responses are consistent with a simple model where rural-urban earnings differentials and liquidity constraints interact to determine rural-to-urban migration flows. We also confirm these temperature effects using country-level observations constructed by aggregating the grid cell level data. We project that expected warming in the next century will encourage further urbanization in middle-income countries such as Argentina, but it will slow down urban transition in poor countries like Malawi and Niger.

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Peri & Akira Sasahara, 2019. "The Impact of Global Warming on Rural-Urban Migrations: Evidence from Global Big Data," NBER Working Papers 25728, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25728
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    Cited by:

    1. Katrin Millock & Cees Withagen, 2021. "Climate and Migration," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Anil Markandya & Dirk Rübbelke (ed.), CLIMATE AND DEVELOPMENT, chapter 10, pages 309-341, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    2. Selod, Harris & Shilpi, Forhad, 2021. "Rural-urban migration in developing countries: Lessons from the literature," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C).
    3. Trong-Anh, TRINH & Simon FEENY & Alberto POSSO, 2021. "The Impact of Natural Disasters on Migration: Findings from Vietnam," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 479-510, September.
    4. Cascarano, Michele & Natoli, Filippo & Petrella, Andrea, 2022. "Entry, exit and market structure in a changing climate," MPRA Paper 112868, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Sichko, Christopher, 2021. "Migrant Selection and Sorting during the Great American Drought," SocArXiv wm2p3, Center for Open Science.
    6. Rodrigo Garcia‐Verdu & Alexis Meyer‐Cirkel & Akira Sasahara & Hans Weisfeld, 2022. "Importing inputs for climate change mitigation: The case of agricultural productivity," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(1), pages 34-56, February.
    7. Maria del Pilar López-Uribe & David Castells-Quintana & Thomas K.J. McDermott, 2021. "Population displacement and urban conflict: Global evidence from more than 3300 flood events," Documentos CEDE 019243, Universidad de los Andes – Facultad de Economía – CEDE.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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