Domestic and International Migration Intentions in Response to Environmental Stress: A Global Cross-Country Analysis

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UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies
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Environmental stress is expected to increase in the future and the implications of climate change are likely to affect migration patterns around the world. Despite the size of the literature, a consensus on the migration response to environmental factors has not been reached. This paper contributes to our understanding of environmental migration patterns across countries. Specifically, we draw on the unique Gallup World Polls to conduct a cross-country individual-level analysis of the impact of self-reported exposure to environmental stress on people’s migration intentions and their destination choice. We simultaneously model intentions to migrate domestically and internationally for 90 countries worldwide in 2010. We find that self-reported exposure to environmental stress increases the probability to intend to migrate both domestically and internationally in the coming year. In absolute terms, the largest impact is obtained for domestic migration, but controlling for the fact that this is the most common form of migration anyway, environmental stress particularly raises intraregional migration intentions. Overall, the effects on migration intentions to the different destinations are strongest in low and middle income countries in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, while in high income countries, and in Europe particularly, environmental stress appears to spur only domestic migration intentions.

Self-reported Environmental Stress, Migration Intentions, International Migration; Domestic Migration; Destination choice