The Migration Response to Increasing Temperatures
Cristina Cattaneoa, Giovanni Peri, 2016
Climate change, especially the warming trend experienced in recent years by several countries, could affect agricultural productivity. As a consequence the income of rural populations will change, and with it the incentives for people to remain in rural areas. Using data from 115 countries between 1960 and 2000, we analyze the effect of differential warming trends across countries on the probability of either migrating out of the country or from rural to urban areas. We find that higher temperatures in middle-income economies increased migration rates to urban areas and to other countries. In poor countries, higher temperatures reduced the probability of migration to cities and to other countries, consistently with the presence of severe liquidity constraints. In middle-income countries, migration represents an important margin of adjustment to global warming, potentially contributing to structural change and even increasing income per worker. Such a mechanism, however, does not seem to work in poor economies.