Climate Change, Inequality, and Human Migration

64 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2019

See all articles by Michał Burzyński

Michał Burzyński

Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER)

Christoph Deuster

NOVA University of Lisbon

Frédéric Docquier

Université catholique de Louvain; CREAM, Centre for Research on Environmental Appraisal & Management, UK; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Jaime de Melo

Fondation Pour les Etudes et Recherches Sur le Développement International (FERDI)

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Abstract

This paper investigates the long-term implications of climate change on local, interregional, and international migration of workers. For nearly all of the world's countries, our micro-founded model jointly endogenizes the effects of changing temperature and sea level on income distribution and individual decisions about fertility, education, and mobility. Climate change intensifies poverty and income inequality creating favorable conditions for urbanization and migration from low- to high-latitude countries. Encompassing slow- and fast-onset mechanisms, our projections suggest that climate change will induce the voluntary and forced displacement of 100 to 160 million workers (200 to 300 million climate migrants of all ages) over the course of the 21st century. However, under current migration laws and policies, forcibly displaced people predominantly relocate within their country and merely 20% of climate migrants opt for long-haul migration to OECD countries. If climate change induces generalized and persistent conflicts over resources in regions at risk, we project significantly larger cross-border flows in the future.

Keywords: climate change, migration, inequality, urbanization, conflicts

JEL Classification: E24, F22, J24, J61, 015, Q54

Suggested Citation

Burzyński, Michał and Deuster, Christoph and Docquier, Frédéric and de Melo, Jaime, Climate Change, Inequality, and Human Migration. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12623. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3457667

Michał Burzyński (Contact Author)

Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) ( email )

Maison des Sciences Humaines
11, Porte des Science
Esch-sur-Alzette/Belval, L-4366
Luxembourg

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/mpburzynski/

Christoph Deuster

NOVA University of Lisbon ( email )

Portugal

Frédéric Docquier

Université catholique de Louvain ( email )

IRES
Place Montesquieu 3
Louvain-la-Neuve, 1348
Belgium

HOME PAGE: http://https://perso.uclouvain.be/frederic.docquier/

CREAM, Centre for Research on Environmental Appraisal & Management, UK

University of Newcastle
NE1 7RU Newcastle Upon Tyne
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Jaime De Melo

Fondation Pour les Etudes et Recherches Sur le Développement International (FERDI) ( email )

63, boulevard François-Mitterrand
Clermont-Ferrand, 63000
France

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