November 29, 2015

New draft: "Migration and Climate Change in Rural Africa"

Climate change is expected to severely affect people’s livelihoods through, among others, rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns. Here we show that average temperature and precipitations significantly affect migration decisions of farm households in Ghana and Nigeria. We find that farmers that live in the least favorable climates for agriculture have the lowest propensity to migrate among all farm households. As climatic conditions worsen, farm households are likely to migrate less. Our result are consistent with the widely accepted conclusions of two large bodies of literature which have been only marginally connected before. Many migration studies suggest that lower incomes and lower assets reduce migration rates in developing countries. There is also general agreement that climate change will reduce agricultural productivity in low-latitude developing countries. Taken together, these two streams of literature, lead to assume that climate change, especially in areas that will become less hospitable but not uninhabitable, could reduce migration rates. In the literature this is known as the environmental-capital hypothesis, whereby increased productivity due to better conditions provides the capital to finance costly migration, while a worsening in the climate could be associated with lower chances of migration.

Cattaneo, C. and E. Massetti. 2015. “Climate and Migration in Rural Ghana and Nigeria.”