Heterogeneous climate effects on human migration in Indonesia

Brian C. Thiede, Clark L. Gray
Springer Netherlands
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We examine the effect of anomalous temperatures, rainfall levels, and monsoon timing on migration outcomes in Indonesia. Using panel data from the Indonesian Family Life Survey and high-resolution climate data, we assess whether intra- and inter-province moves are used as a response to climatic shocks. We evaluate the relative importance of temperature, rainfall, and monsoon timing for migration. Only temperature and monsoon timing have significant effects, and these do not operate in the direction commonly assumed. Estimated effects vary according to individuals’ gender, membership in a farm household, and location. We also analyze climate effects on sources of household income, which highlights the multi-phasic nature of household responses. Results undermine narratives of a uniform global migratory response to climate change and highlight the heterogeneous use of migration as a response to such changes. By extending previous research on environmentally induced migration in Indonesia, we also highlight the sensitivity of estimates to alternative climate and migration measures.