Population and Environment

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 255–278 | Cite as

Climate variability and human migration in the Netherlands, 1865–1937

  • Julia A. Jennings
  • Clark L. Gray
Original Paper


Human migration is frequently cited as a potential social outcome of climate change and variability, and these effects are often assumed to be stronger in the past when economies were less developed and markets more localized. Yet, few studies have used historical data to test the relationship between climate and migration directly. In addition, the results of recent studies that link demographic and climate data are not consistent with conventional narratives of displacement responses. Using longitudinal individual-level demographic data from the Historical Sample of the Netherlands and climate data that cover the same period, we examine the effects of climate variability on migration using event history models. Only internal moves in the later period and for certain social groups are associated with negative climate conditions, and the strength and direction of the observed effects change over time. International moves decrease with extreme rainfall, suggesting that the complex relationships between climate and migration that have been observed for contemporary populations extend into the nineteenth century.


Internal migration International migration Climate variation The Netherlands Event history analysis 



We gratefully acknowledge Kees Mandemakers for assistance with the HSN data and Maia Call for programming assistance. Peter Ekamper provided access to historical climate data, and Richard Sciotte supplied data on passenger flows. Useful comments were provided by Robert McLeman, members of the Lund University Centre for Economic Demography, and the Caltech Social Science History group. Support for C. Gray is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grant R00HD061752. This research is conducted in compliance with the data use agreement and privacy regulations of the Historical Sample of the Population of the Netherlands (HSN).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity at Albany, SUNYAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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