Climate Change, Desertification and Internal Migration: Evidence from Global Census Data

Roman Hoffmann , Vienna Institute of Demography, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Guy J. Abel , Asian Demographic Research Institute, Shanghai University
Raya Muttarak , Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Maurizio Malpede, Bocconi University
Marco Percoco, Bocconi University

The role played by climate change as a migration driver has received widespread public attention in the past years. Yet, especially for internal migration, comparable data are missing, challenging the empirical estimation of climatic impacts. Here, we use a novel census-based dataset to estimate the impacts of long-term desertifi-cation and drying trends on internal migration worldwide. The longitudinal data are based on IPUMS Inter-national microdata for 68 countries, covering the period 1960-2015. We use information on the current and previous residence of census participants to calculate 98000 bilateral internal migration flows between 1600 subnational regions of origin and destination. Combining the migration with environmental data, we find evidence for a substantial impact of drying on human mobility. The impact is strongest in already arid areas, in particular in Africa and Asia, highlighting the role of desertification trends. Agricultural dependence as well as low development levels further exacerbate the climatic effects.

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 Presented in Session 10. Internal Migration and Urbanization