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The Perils of Modelling How Migration Responds to Climate Change

Feng, Bo and Partridge, Mark and Rembert, Mark (2016): The Perils of Modelling How Migration Responds to Climate Change.

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The impact of climate change has drawn growing interests from both researchers and policymakers. Yet, relatively little is known with respect to its influence on interregional migration. The surge of extreme weather conditions could lead to the increase of forced migration from coastal to inland regions, which normally follows different patterns than voluntary migration. However, recent migration models tend to predict unrealistic migration trends under climate change in that migration would flow towards the areas most adversely affected. Given the great uncertainty about the magnitude and distribution of severe weather events, it is almost impossible to foresee migration directions by simply extrapolating from the data on how people have responded in the past to climate and weather. For example, weather events will likely be far outside of what has been observed. Other issues include a poor climate measures and a poor understanding of how climate affects migration in an entirely different structural environment. Unintended consequence of public policies also contributes to the complication of predicting future migration pattern. In this paper, we survey the limitations of existing climate change literature, explore insights of regional economic studies, and provide potential solutions to those issues.

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