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Climate Change, Agriculture and Migration: A Survey

Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of Milano, 20122 Milano, Italy
LICOS—Centre for Institution and Economic Performance, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1405;
Received: 25 February 2018 / Revised: 26 April 2018 / Accepted: 28 April 2018 / Published: 3 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Economic, Business and Management Aspects of Sustainability)
PDF [280 KB, uploaded 3 May 2018]


This paper proposes a selective review of the classical economics-based literature on climate change and migration, focusing on the extent to which agriculture might be considered a key mediating channel linking climate change to migration. Overall, climate change is expected to have large and negative effects on the global economy. These effects are even more evident whenever the economic sector considered is the agricultural one, particularly in developing countries. Hence, migration can be viewed as a specific form of adaptation implemented by individuals and households, enabling them to cope, among other things, with weather-induced risk. We show that the importance of agriculture emerges from both plenty of micro-level country studies and relatively few macro-level analyses using cross-sectional data over longer time periods. Thus, policy actions targeted to sustainable agriculture and rural development can both help tackle the challenges posed by climate change and create opportunities in the face of growing migration issues. However, we also stress that much of the current evidence is based on statistical associations that have nothing to do with causal inferences. This calls for the use of a more structural approach and more sophisticated research designs, enabling the researchers to better discriminate among different mechanisms concurrently at work. In addition, further research should be addressed to the role played by food security, a complex dimension largely missing in the current debates on climate change and migration. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; agriculture; migration; adaptation; selective review climate change; agriculture; migration; adaptation; selective review
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Falco, C.; Donzelli, F.; Olper, A. Climate Change, Agriculture and Migration: A Survey. Sustainability 2018, 10, 1405.

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