Climate change as a migration driver from rural and urban Mexico

Author: 
Raphael J Nawrotzki, Lori M Hunter, Daniel M Runfola and Fernando Riosmena
Publisher: 
IOP Publishing
Type of Publication: 
Status: 
Free
Language of Publication: 
English
Country: 
Mexico
Year of Publication: 
2015

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Studies investigating migration as a response to climate variability have largely focused on rural locations to the exclusion of urban areas. This lack of urban focus is unfortunate given the sheer numbers of urban residents and continuing high levels of urbanization. To begin filling this empirical gap, this study investigates climate change impacts on US-bound migration from rural and urban Mexico, 1986–1999. We employ geostatistical interpolation methods to construct two climate change indices, capturing warm and wet spell duration, based on daily temperature and precipitation readings for 214 weather stations across Mexico. In combination with detailed migration histories obtained from the Mexican Migration Project, we model the influence of climate change on household-level migration from 68 rural and 49 urban municipalities. Results from multilevel event-history models reveal that a temperature warming and excessive precipitation significantly increased international migration during the study period. However, climate change impacts on international migration is only observed for rural areas. Interactions reveal a causal pathway in which temperature (but not precipitation) influences migration patterns through employment in the agricultural sector. As such, climate-related international migration may decline with continued urbanization and the resulting reductions in direct dependence of households on rural agriculture.

Environmental Research Letters, 
Vol. 10, Issue 11
DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/10/11/114023