Out of the Frying Pan: Climate Change and Internal Migration in Brazil

47 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2020

See all articles by Claire Brunel

Claire Brunel

American University School of International Service

Maggie Y. Liu

U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Tax Analysis (OTA)

Date Written: January 29, 2020

Abstract

When global warming affects productivity in climate-sensitive sectors, migration represents a potential adaptation mechanism. We exploit exogenous variation in temperatures and precipitation across Brazil and examine the response in state-to-state migration flows between 1981 and 2010. Accounting for time-varying migration costs using a novel road dataset constructed by digitizing historical maps, and addressing the endogeneity of the roads network, we find strong evidence that states with warming temperatures exhibit higher levels of emigration, particularly in the agricultural sector. Our results suggest that holding travel cost constant states that experience a 10 percent increase in Celsius temperatures will see an 8.8 percent increase in emigration to other Brazilian states. Interestingly, while rising temperatures clearly play a role in pushing migrants out, we do not generally find that migrants pay attention to the temperatures of their destination. Awareness of the climate at destination is however much higher if migrants have been exposed to droughts at origin. These ambiguous findings raise questions about whether migrants appreciate the role of climate in their relocation decisions or simply react to the consequences of climate change, e.g. in the form of lower agricultural productivity.

Keywords: climate change, migration, brazil

JEL Classification: Q15, J61, O13, O15, R23

Suggested Citation

Brunel, Claire and Liu, Maggie Y., Out of the Frying Pan: Climate Change and Internal Migration in Brazil (January 29, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3527693 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3527693

Claire Brunel (Contact Author)

American University School of International Service ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

Maggie Y. Liu

U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Tax Analysis (OTA) ( email )

1500 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20220
United States

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