Climate Change-Induced Migration in Coastal Bangladesh? A Critical Assessment of Migration Drivers in Rural Households under Economic and Environmental Stress

Amelie Bernzen, J. Craig Jenkins, Boris Braun
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Geosciences 2019, 9(1), 51


Discussions of climate migration have recognized the need for probabilistic, systematic, and empirical analyses. We examine the importance of environmental stressors in migration using a multi-leveled analysis of a household survey of the climate-stressed rural communities of coastal Bangladesh. We find that a relatively small share (6.5%) of rural coastal people have migrated, overwhelmingly domestically and on a temporary basis. The main motives are better employment opportunities in urban areas, marriage/family reunification, and education. About a third are displaced by flooding that created loss of arable land. Being male, younger, and working outside of agriculture facilitate migration, and also those with greater human and horizontal social capital are more likely to migrate. Exposure to severe river erosion, residing closer to major waterways and in saltwater shrimp farming zones spur migration. Climate migration is in its first instance economic-induced with environmental stress contributing as a secondary factor.