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Trapped or Voluntary? Non-Migration Despite Climate Risks

  • Technische Universität Dresden + Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development

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Millions of people impacted by climate change actually want to remain in place; these aspirations and respective capabilities need more attention in migration research and climate adaptation policies. Residents at risk may voluntarily stay put, as opposed to being involuntarily trapped, and understanding such subjectivity is empirically challenging. This comment elaborates on “voluntary non-migration” to call attention to a neglected population within the ongoing discourses on climate-induced migration, social equality and human rights. A roadmap for action outlines specific research and policy goals.
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Sustainability 2020, 12, 4718; doi:10.3390/su12114718
Trapped or Voluntary? Non-Migration Despite
Climate Risks
Bishawjit Mallick 1,* and Jochen Schanze 1,2
1 Chair of Environmental Development and Risk Management, Faculty of Environmental Sciences,
Technische Universität Dresden, 01217 Dresden, Germany;
2 Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development, 01217 Dresden, Germany
* Correspondence:; Tel.: +49-351-463-42590
Received: 9 April 2020; Accepted: 2 June 2020; Published: 9 June 2020
Abstract: Millions of people impacted by climate change actually want to remain in place; these
aspirations and respective capabilities need more attention in migration research and climate
adaptation policies. Residents at risk may voluntarily stay put, as opposed to being involuntarily
trapped, and understanding such subjectivity is empirically challenging. This comment elaborates
on “voluntary non-migration” to call attention to a neglected population within the ongoing
discourses on climate-induced migration, social equality and human rights. A roadmap for action
outlines specific research and policy goals.
Keywords: non-migration; trapped; voluntary migration; environmental non-migration
1. Introduction
“… I would like to die at my birthplace. You know, when I smell the mud of my home …”
(Rokon Morol, 35 years old fisherman on 18 April 2016, Gabura village, Bangladesh)
Climate-induced displacement has become a reality around the world. The World Bank has
estimated that 143 million people may be ‘climate migrants’ by 2050 [1]. So far, most people that face
climate risks do not migrate; for example, between 2008 and 2016, approximately 85% of those
threatened by natural disasters did not relocate, according to data from the International
Organization for Migration (IOM) [2] and the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters
(CRED) [3]. Some of these individuals may be “trapped” because they lack the means to move [4].
However, not all those who stay are trapped. A small number of studies have indicated reasons for
staying, such as place attachment and kin exerting [5–8]. In these cases, at-risk residents may
voluntarily stay in place, as opposed to being involuntarily trapped. Understanding such subjectivity,
so far, is empirically challenging. This is why the choice of “non-migration” has received little policy
attention. For example, voluntary non-migrants have not been taken into consideration in the policy
framework of the UNFCCC Conferences of Parties (COP) up to now, including COP24 [9], although
some documents highlight “in-situ adaptation” in a more general context [9,10]. Therefore, this
comment elaborates on voluntary non-migration, to call attention to such neglected populations
within the ongoing conversation on climate migration.
2. Learning from Environmental Migration
Climate change affects living conditions through more frequent and severe weather events (e.g.,
floods, droughts, and cyclones) or changes in the local climate. Migration is one of several adaptation
options that individuals and households may choose in the face of such challenging conditions. For
example, if water scarcity and increased salinity cause the land’s food production to decrease,
Sustainability 2020, 12, 4718 2 of 6
agricultural workers may be forced to seek employment elsewhere. Political, economic, social,
cultural, and other environmental factors also impact mobility [11]. The influence of environmental
and social factors depends on objective circumstances, but also on subjective perception.
Non-migration is often treated as the contingency or default state when migration is unfeasible
[12]. The neoclassical theory of migration states that the decision to migrate is the result of a rational
calculation of the costs and benefits of moving [13], and that this decision to move is supposed to
depend on aspirations and capabilities [14]. Aspirations include the individual’s demands, hopes,
and wishes, whereas capabilities entail the individual’s resources, such as professional skills,
financial means, and social networks. Migrants are individuals who aspire to move and have
sufficient capabilities to do so. Aspiration without sufficient capabilities to leave causes people to be
trapped (involuntary non-migration) in the face of environmental change [15,16]. In this context, non-
migration is the outcome when the cost of migrating outweighs the benefits of staying, as though the
factors that lead an individual to choose migration are the same for non-migration. Alternative
theories mention that the social and cultural milieu of a community are the primary factors holding
people to a place, suggesting that non-migration is related to place-attachment and other factors that
empower people, rather than just a lack of capabilities [6,17,18]. Consideration of these findings leads
us to contend that environmental non-migration is more than simply the opposite of environmental
migration; the push and pull factors of migration cannot explain the roots of decisions to stay put in
the face of climate risks [19]. Migration and non-migration are far too complex to be characterized in
this binary manner. Moreover, real-world migration and non-migration decisions may not even
adhere to the assumption of rational choices [20]. Thus, what is less well understood are the reasons
people voluntarily remain in place—the reasons for non-migration even in the face of climate risks.
3. Indications of Voluntary Environmental Non-Migration
Recent studies of people staying put (voluntarily or involuntarily) have uncovered different
causes of non-migration decisions. For instance, people in a community in Peru remain due to place
attachment, rather than resource constraints [6]. Likewise, people of the Maldives do not want to
move away, despite climate risks, because of commitments to their family, land, and culture; they are
also committed to creating and retaining their own identity [21]. Overall, empirical findings list
influences on non-migration decisions as place attachment [6], the holding power of place [22], and
livelihood resilience [23]. Furthermore, capabilities to move differ significantly from capabilities to
stay. The latter, for instance, require “resilience”. Resilience to climate change is especially relevant
for environmental non-migrants, both involuntary and voluntary. While the ‘voluntary non-
migrants’ may be resilient to shocks, and thus do not migrate, involuntary non-migrants may not be
resilient, but cannot migrate. This indicates the binary relationship between voluntary and
involuntary non-migrants, based on their resilience to shocks and, likewise, on their adaptive
capacity under changing boundary conditions. It should be noted that this binary relationship is a
simplification to trace migration-related decisions, since resilience is, more accurately, an ongoing
capacity of livelihood that continuously exists. The temporal dimension of livelihood resilience
shapes the typology of non-migration, i.e., today’s voluntary non-migrant can be tomorrow’s
involuntary one. Therefore, fresh research and timely policy discourse on voluntary non-migration
are required, in relation to climate and environmental change.
4. Divergences and Interlinkages
To pave the way toward further understanding and consideration of voluntary environmental
non-migration, we suggest an initial definition of the new field, to clarify its relation to existing
knowledge on migration and involuntary non-migration. We propose the use of aspirations and
capabilities as a coordinate system, in accordance with K. Schewel [12]. In this system, we can
distinguish particularities of voluntary non-migration, such as “aspirations to stay” from “aspirations
to move,” and “capabilities to stay” from “capabilities to move” (see Figure 1). This offers a new
perspective on migration and non-migration with four cases: (i) voluntary non-migrants—These
people remain in their places of origin and have high aspirations to stay. They need particular
Sustainability 2020, 12, 4718 3 of 6
capabilities to remain in place, whereas capabilities to move do not play a primary role; (ii) involuntary
non-migrants—these people are trapped, with low aspirations to stay but a lack of capabilities to
move; (iii) voluntary migrants—these people have both high aspirations to move and high capabilities
to do so; and (iv) forced migrants—these people have low aspirations to move, and capabilities to move
do not play a significant role.
Figure 1. Mapping (in)voluntary (non-)migration based on aspirations and capabilities.
Climate risks can worsen the environmental conditions of people’s livelihoods, and hence
trigger aspirations to leave. At the same time, it may also affect their capabilities to move and
capabilities to stay. For example, individuals and households may lose their means of transport
during an extreme weather event (capabilities to move) and become trapped. Or, they may suffer
from infertility of their land, resulting in food insecurity (capabilities to stay). Thus, environmental
migration is the strategy of individuals and households directed towards diversifying income
sources, in order to reduce economic risks and losses driven by environmental threats.
Through the proposed positioning of voluntary non-migration in the traditional discourse on
migration and non-migration, we emphasize the interrelations between the four cases of migrants
and non-migrants. On the one hand, seasonal or episodic migration can lead to a “temporality” of
migration over a person’s lifetime. Momentary environmental events seem to play a vital role in this
case. On the other hand, migrants often remain in contact with non-migrants as a means of familial
support: the mobile person supplies resources from outside to the household members who remain,
thus preventing the need for them to move [24,25]. The common understanding of “translocality”
refers to seasonal or circular migration, with the aim of livelihood diversification. So, people who
work in the traditional farming sector can, simultaneously, work in the secondary or tertiary sectors.
The translocality may also help explain the historical and cultural basis of the relationship
between womanhood and non-migration, and generational or age-specific migration and non-
migration trends. In light of these nuanced situations, we argue against the examination of permanent
migration and non-migration from a linear and static point of view, in the context of climate change.
The data show that unexpected disruptions may influence the temporality and translocality between
migrants and non-migrants and their aspirations and capabilities. For example, the aftermath of the
cyclone Aila in 2009, in Bangladesh, showed that one third of the affected families sent their male
members to the nearby cities, and that very few of the families themselves were uprooted from their
locales [26]. This represents the phenomena of attachment to, and holding power of, households in
Sustainability 2020, 12, 4718 4 of 6
their place of origin. These are aspirations to stay put, rather than low aspirations to move, and hence
may not be identified from a migration perspective. Thus, we argue that they require a separate
voluntary non-migration view, based on additional specific factors. These hold factors are supposed
to be mostly independent from the push and pull factors of migration aspirations. They can be
expected to occur on the individual or collective levels and originate from psychological, social and
cultural roots.
This leads to the question of whether there are also particular factors describing non-migration
capabilities. The answer is likely ‘yes’, since the aforementioned capabilities to move significantly
differ from continuance capabilities to stay. The latter, for instance, demands the medium and long-
term availability of natural, economic and social resources, but also capacities commonly designated
as ‘resilience’. At the same time, it is relevant for both involuntary and voluntary non-migration. A
systematic analysis of the contextual conditions, influencing both voluntary and involuntary non-
migration, seems to require a more detailed understanding of their specific aspirations and
Therefore, in order to seek a more comprehensive understanding of the impacts of climate
change on migration, we call for a clear distinction between aspirations to stay and aspirations to
move, and capabilities to stay from capabilities to move, with additional consideration of the
temporality and translocality between migrants and non-migrants (Figure-1). Accordingly, the real-
world complexity would be better reflected through the further development of existing research
frameworks. This should then be used to enhance current policy on climate-induced displacement,
by considering voluntary non-migrants and their livelihood conditions through the frames of
translocality and temporality.
Our view is that the root causes of voluntary non-migration require far more attention.
Increasing climate risks will cause more challenges and constraints for non-migrants living in
vulnerable locations. Currently, policies addressing climate adaptation, with regard to migration,
overlook the needs and potentials of the citizens remaining in place.
5. Giving Voluntary Environmental Non-Migration a Floor
We contend that the inclusion of voluntary non-migration, and its corresponding role in a
climate change context, is scientifically and socially compelling for a comprehensive understanding
of environmental non-migration decisions (Figure 2). Future research on this topic should provide:
(1) terminological clarification, (2) conceptual frameworks considering the interrelations between
aspiration and capabilities including resilience and holding factors, and the intrinsic relevance of
gender aspects, localities, rights- and justice-based perspectives, etc., (3) methodological means to
empirically address specific voluntary non-migration drivers, and (4) comparative analyses of local,
national and transnational cases. The temporal nature of migration for individuals, households, and
families, and the subject of translocality merit special attention as well.
Figure 2. The decisions of the local future generation facing climate risks need to be better understood.
(P.C. Mallick 2018).
Sustainability 2020, 12, 4718 5 of 6
The resulting information should be practically applied to inform policymakers who are
responsible for climate adaptation and development strategies. This will enable them to better tailor
the use of instruments and measures to foster voluntary non-migrants’ staying capabilities, without
separating them from migrants. Potential benefits may range from the reduction in urbanization
pressure, to the increase in food security and the maintenance of culture and environment.
Simultaneously, the ethical, social, and economic ramifications of uninhibited migration can be
avoided. Moreover, non-migration and migration may be dealt with in a coherent manner, while also
addressing the interrelation and translocality between the two.
Author Contributions: Both authors have equally contributed to the manuscript. Both authors have read and
agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
Funding: This research was funded by the Open Topic Post-Doc scheme of Technische Universität Dresden to
the first author, grant number F-003661-553-Ü1G-1212042, project titled ‘Non-migrability: Non-Migration of
People at Risks in the Context of Social and Economic Vulnerability’.
Acknowledgments: Authors are thankful to Chup Priovashini of ICCCAD for her copy-editing supports.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest. The funders had no role in the design of the
study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to
publish the results.
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... While there remains ample anecdotal evidence of the relationship between climate change impacts and migration, the specific reasons for people to decide to migrate are interwoven with indirect pressures, such as livelihood disruption, poverty, war, or disaster (Werz and Hoffman 2016). Moreover, why people choose to stay at their places is also essential in the context of creeping environmental and climate-induced migration (Mallick and Schanze 2020). ...
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Climatic disasters are displacing millions of people every year across the world. Growing academic attention in recent decades has addressed different dimensions of the nexus between climatic events and human migration. Based on a systematic review approach, this study investigates how climate-induced migration studies are framed in the published literature and identifies key gaps in existing studies. 161 journal articles were systematically selected and reviewed (published between 1990 and 2019). Result shows diverse academic discourses on policies, climate vulnerabilities, adaptation, resilience, conflict, security, and environmental issues across a range of disciplines. It identifies Asia as the most studied area followed by Oceania, illustrating that the greatest focus of research to date has been tropical and subtropical climatic regions. Moreover, this study identifies the impact of climate-induced migration on livelihoods, socio-economic conditions, culture, security, and health of climate-induced migrants. Specifically, this review demonstrates that very little is known about the livelihood outcomes of climate migrants in their international destination and their impacts on host communities. The study offers a research agenda to guide academic endeavors toward addressing current gaps in knowledge, including a pressing need for global and national policies to address climate migration as a significant global challenge.
... Clearly, people would not choose to settle in a highly vulnerable place to frequent climatic disasters such as floods and erosion. They always search for secure places to build their livelihoods, although there is strong evidence of peoples' place attachment, immobility or non-migration, particularly in the discussion on 'trapped populations', and "voluntary non-migration" (Adams, 2016;Khalil and Jacobs, 2021;Mallick et al., 2021;Mallick and Schanze, 2020). However, the relationship between human migration and climate change impacts is identified as two sides of the same coin (Milán-García et al., 2021;Piguet et al., 2011;Skinner, 2018), suggesting it is hard to dissociate the connection between climate change and migration. ...
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This study employed a bibliometric analysis approach to understand how climate migration studies in the Pacific (CMSP) have evolved and outline the future research scope needed to contribute to the academic discourse. The study reveals that CMSP has proliferated in recent decades. It explores the most prominent authors, highly cited articles with their sources, and institutions that have contributed most articles in CMSP. The analysis also demonstrates a shift in CMSP from traditional discussion to newly emerging dimensions. The knowledge produced in this study will help future contributors develop and implement new research and formulate policies around CMSP.
Conference Paper
Coastal areas suffer from a plethora of stressor events, especially with the onset of climate change. Coastal events that affect the local population include primarily storm surge and related flooding, coastal erosion and inundation due to sea level rise. Coastal flooding due to higher sea levels, stronger waves and increased cyclones can endanger the most densely populated areas of the world as well as destroy property and infrastructure. Another social aspect of the climate change and natural disasters is the possible mass migration that it will cause. The study was conducted in the coastal areas of five districts in the southern state of Kerala in India- Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Malappuram to understand the climate or environmental linked population mobility. Households along the coastline were interviewed about their experience of adverse climate events, whether it has led to migration. Climate stress parameters for the region were taken from satellite altimetry and reanalysis datasets. The relationship between the rate of migration and environmental/climate parameters were also examined. Majority of the migrant were from the regions which were facing more coastal stress. Many households try to adapt by making sea barriers on their own or with communities before considering migration. There were a small percentage of households amongst the migrants who had higher risk perceptions who didn’t try to adapt using such protective measures and chose migration over adaptation. Amongst those who migrated, almost all did to nearby areas and mostly into housing provided by the government for resettlement. Some of the migrants returned back to the coast later, as they found it difficult to continue with their previous livelihood when they migrated far. Those who have also experienced the impacts but are still staying cited financial issues as the major factor trapping them in the climate distressed region. Emotional attachment, lack of skill/willingness in pursuing other jobs were other reasons for staying in the area.
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This research aims to ascertain how, and to what extent, livelihood resilience influences migration decisions (to migrate or not to migrate) of people who live in vulnerable socio-ecological systems (SESs). To do so, first, the characteristics of different SESs are determined; secondly, livelihood resilience across the SESs are analysed; and finally, the influence of livelihood resilience on the ‘migration decision’ (i.e., to migrate or not to migrate) is explained. The explanation of migration is based on the patterns, location, purpose, scope, and extent of migration. This paper addresses these issues based on empirical evidence from five rural coastal communities in Bangladesh. Findings show that resilient people would like to stay put and the decision differs across SESs, for example, the majority of people living in salt-shrimp-dependent SESs intended to migrate in the future, whereas the majority of people living in rain-fed agriculture-dependent SESs preferred to not migrate. Thus, the ability to migrate is therefore not only dependent on economic capability but also on the socio-ecological context of the place in which people live.
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The influence of climate change and perceptions of it on people's migration decisions has received significant prominence, especially for people living on low-lying islands. To contribute to this literature, this paper uses Maldives as a case study for exploring the research question: How does climate change influence or not influence people's migration decisions in Maldives? Previous work tends to start from a disciplinary climate change perspective, while this study combines migration, mobility, and island studies perspectives, within which climate change sits. As well, rather than focusing on the area around the capital, Malé, as with many previous studies, the 113 interviews here were conducted in eight islands across three atolls. The method was qualitative, semi-structured, face-to-face interviews using purposive sampling of ordinary people. Contrary to a view of islanders preparing to flee their islands as "climate change refugees", the interviewees provided nuanced and varied responses. They rarely identified the potential of future impacts due to climate change as influencing their migration-related decisions. When migration was considered, it was chiefly internal movement seeking a better standard of living via improved services, better living conditions, and more job opportunities. If migration related to potential climate change impacts might happen, then it was assumed to be in the future for decisions then. This lack of influence of climate change-related perceptions on Maldivians' migration decisions fits well within island mobilities studies, from which climate change perspectives could adopt wider contexts.
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This paper explores Indigenous (im)mobilities in the Anthropocene, and their relationship to Pacific Islands climate activism. In a context where Indigenous peoples and perspectives are poorly represented in global climate politics, it is important to understand how Pacific people represent their own interests and imagine their own futures as pressures to move due to climate change take hold. We examine political action outside of formal governance spaces and processes, in order to understand how Indigenous people are challenging state-centric approaches to climate change adaptation. We do so by studying the works of Pacific activists and artists who engage with climate change. We find that *banua – an expansive concept, inclusive of people and their place, attentive to both mobility and immobility, and distributed across the Pacific Islands region – is essential for the existential security of Pacific people and central to contemporary climate activism. We find that Pacific activists/artists are challenging the status quo by invoking *banua. In doing so, they are politicising (im)mobility. These mobilisations are coalescing into an Oceanic cosmopolitanism that confronts two mutually reinforcing features of contemporary global climate politics: the subordination of Indigenous peoples, perspectives and worldviews; and the marginalisation of (im)mobility concerns within the global climate agenda.
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This article suggests that there is a mobility bias in migration research: by focusing on the “drivers” of migration — the forces that lead to the initiation and perpetuation of migration flows — migration theories neglect the countervailing structural and personal forces that restrict or resist these drivers and lead to different immobility outcomes. To advance a research agenda on immobility, it offers a definition of immobility, further develops the aspiration-capability framework as an analytical tool for exploring the determinants of different forms of (im)mobility, synthesizes decades of interdisciplinary research to help explain why people do not migrate or desire to migrate, and considers future directions for further qualitative and quantitative research on immobility.
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The influence of climate change and perceptions of it on people’s migration decisions has received significant prominence, especially for people living on low-lying islands. To contribute to this literature, this paper uses Maldives as a case study for exploring the research question: How does climate change influence or not influence people’smigration decisions in Maldives? Previous work tends to start from a disciplinary climate change perspective, while this study combines migration, mobility, and island studies perspectives, within which climate change sits. As well, rather than focusing on the area around the capital, Malé, as with many previous studies, the 113 interviews here were conducted in eight islands across three atolls. The method was qualitative, semistructured, face-to-face interviews using purposive sampling of ordinary people. Contrary to a view of islanders preparing to flee their islands as “climate change refugees”, the interviewees provided nuanced and varied responses. They rarely identified the potential of future impacts due to climate change as influencing their migration-related decisions. When migration was considered, it was chiefly internal movement seeking a better standard of living via improved services, better living conditions, and more job opportunities. If migration related to potential climate change impacts might happen, then it was assumed to be in the future for decisions then. This lack of influence of climate change-related perceptions on Maldivians’ migration decisions fits well within island mobilities studies, from which climate change perspectives could adopt wider contexts.
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This paper ethnographically explores particular ways of staying put in a Mexican village that builds upon a myriad of present and past mobilities. By doing so, the research contributes to open the black box of rural immobility. Three broad types of stayers are identified: desired, acquiescent, and involuntary stayers. The ethnographic material supports the explanatory power of breaking down the aspiration phase from the realisation one to understand the (mis)matching between desires and capacities for situations of permanence. The research particularly explores how villagers willing to remain, have managed to stay put in a context of high physical mobility, and how staying villagers perceive the desirability and feasibility of staying put compared with that of migrating. Staying put, similarly to migration, is often part of complex life strategies that involve changing mobility–immobility articulations. In the particular ethnographic context, staying put is ascribed an intrinsic positive value. Migration (whether internal or international) has an instrumental value as the means to be able to remain in the village.
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It is a refreshingly simple thought that migration is the combined result of two factors: the aspiration to migrate and the ability to migrate. Without having to resort to overly structural or individualistic explanations, this analytical distinction helps disentangle complex questions around why some people migrate but others do not. Still, aspiration and ability raise their own thorny theoretical and methodological questions. To begin with, what does it mean to have migration aspirations? How can such concepts be objects of empirical research? And is it meaningful to say that individuals possess the ability to migrate if their preference is to stay? The aspiration/ability model was originally proposed in this journal and has since been diversely applied and adapted. In this article, we look back at more than a decade of research to examine a series of theoretical and empirical developments related to the aspiration/ability model and its extensions. We identify two-step approaches as a class of analytical frameworks that share the basic logic of the aspiration/ability model. Covering expansive theoretical, methodological and empirical ground, we seek to lay a foundation for new research on global migration in its diverse forms.
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Research shows that the association between adverse climate conditions and human migration is heterogeneous. One reason for this heterogeneity is the differential vulnerability of populations to climate change. This includes highly vulnerable, “trapped” populations that are too poor to migrate given deep and persistent poverty, the financial costs of migrating, and the erosion of already fragile economic livelihoods under climate change. Another reason for this heterogeneity is the differential vulnerability of places. However, despite the growing list of studies showing that the climate-migration relationship clearly varies across places, there is surprisingly little research on the characteristics of places themselves that trap, or immobilize, populations. Accordingly, we provide the first account of the “holding power” of places in the association between adverse climate conditions and migration flows among 55 districts in Zambia in 2000 and 2010. Methodologically, we combine high-resolution climate information with aggregated census micro data to estimate gravity models of inter-district migration flows. Results reveal that the association between adverse climate conditions and migration is positive only for wealthy migrant-sending districts. In contrast, poor districts are characterized by climate-related immobility. Yet, our findings show that access to migrant networks enables climate-related mobility in the poorest districts, suggesting a viable pathway to overcome mobility constraints. Planners and policy makers need to recognize the holding power of places that can trap populations and develop programs to support in situ adaptation and to facilitate migration to avoid humanitarian emergencies.
This article argues that the interplay of changing environmental conditions in the wake of climate change and dynamic migration systems will lead to even more clearly articulated new regional formations. The way regions perceive the risks of climate change, how they cope with and adapt to these risks and their constitution as resilient entities determines the way migration and mobility take place. We focus on the regional dimensions of climate change and broader related developmental trends such as urbanisation and will highlight this nexus for coastal regions. We present two regional case studies, Keta in Ghana and Semarang in Indonesia. Both cities have experienced floods and related environmental risks throughout their histories. The contrasting analysis of the two cases illustrates that similar environmental challenges may have very different effects on the migratory patterns.
Mass migration is one of the most concerning potential outcomes of global climate change. Recent research into environmentally induced migration suggests that relationship is much more complicated than originally posited by the ‘environmental refugee’ hypothesis. Climate change is likely to increase migration in some cases and reduce it in others, and these movements will more often be temporary and short term than permanent and long term. However, few large-sample studies have examined the evolution of temporary migration under changing environmental conditions. To address this gap, we measure the extent to which temperature, precipitation, and flooding can predict temporary migration in Matlab, Bangladesh. Our analysis incorporates high-frequency demographic surveillance data, a discrete time event history approach, and a range of sociodemographic and contextual controls. This approach reveals that temporary migration declines immediately after flooding but quickly returns to normal. In contrast, high temperatures have sustained positive effects on temporary migration that persist over one to two year periods, while migrations decrease during extended periods of extreme precipitation. Building on previous studies of long-term migration, these results challenge the common assumption that flooding, precipitation extremes, and high temperatures will consistently increase temporary migration. Instead, our results are consistent with a livelihoods interpretation in which long-standing household livelihood strategies (both temporary migration and agriculture) are disrupted by environmental variability.