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Climate Change, Weather Disasters, and International Migration

Alexander Alexeev
Indiana University
david Good
Rafael Reuveny
Indiana University
Open Panel

Abstract

Weather-related natural disasters are well documented as motivating the internal displacement of people. What is less well understood is how weather-related disasters affect international migration. This is important for three major reasons. First, individuals face fewer barriers for migration within countries than between countries. Second, the frequency of these weather-related disasters has been and is expected to continue increasing in both frequency and severity as a consequence of global warming. Third, the statistical validation of the policy levers that might potentially affect migration has been virtually unexplored. Our paper provides a first step in exploring these issues. Given the availability of data, we examine legal international migration flows. This research still poses challenges since it requires that larger sample sizes than previously used, and models that anticipate the potential for heterogeneous responses to both the disasters and policy variables. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of our findings for illegal immigration, the potential for violence in destination countries, and adaptation and mitigation policy responses.