Climate Change and Lifetime Migration in the Global Tropics

Brian Thiede , Pennsylvania State University
Heather Randell, University of Maryland
Clark Gray, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The existing literature on climate change and migration has focused almost exclusively on measuring short-term migratory responses to changes in temperature and precipitation. We argue that this common model can be extended to account for mechanisms that link climate to migration behavior over longer periods of time. We hypothesize that climatic conditions in early life can affect the likelihood of lifetime migration over the first half of the life course by affecting human capital development, investment decisions, and parental migration. We evaluate this expectation using 91 rounds of census data from 31 tropical countries, and estimating multivariate models of lifetime migration as a function of temperature and precipitation during the year prior to birth to age four. Analyses reveal early life climate is systematically associated with the probability of lifetime migration from birth through early adulthood. We find evidence of variation in these effects by socioeconomic status and region.

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 Presented in Session 6. Climate Change and Migration