The Social Consequences of Environmental Migration in Africa

Valerie Mueller , Arizona State University
Clark Gray, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Jean-Francois Maystadt, Lancaster University

An emerging literature empirically establishes that individuals migrate to adapt to climate variability. How these adaptation strategies affect society is poorly understood. We posit the influx of environmental migrants in receiving areas may affect society in that their presence may place pressure on labor markets, resources and services; create ethnic tensions; and foster ill-perceptions of migrants. It remains an additional open question whether any of the above relationships may contribute to societal unrest. Using census and satellite products available between 1976 and 2010, we provide a comprehensive empirical analysis of the social consequences of environmental migration on receiving communities in Africa. The remaining empirical challenges are how to distinguish environmental immigration from broader economic migration and how to identify a causal relationship between the outcome of interest and environmental immigration. To address both concerns, we adopt the procedure used by Maystadt, Mueller, and Sebastian (2016).

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 Presented in Session 144. Vulnerability and Resilience in “Hot Spots” of Acute and Chronic Environmental Change