Population and Environment

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 239–260 | Cite as

Climate change, internal migration, and the future spatial distribution of population: a case study of New Zealand

  • Michael P. Cameron
Original Paper


This paper evaluates the impact of climate change on the spatial distribution of population in New Zealand, focusing on the effects of climate on internal migration dynamics. Specifically, a gravity modelling framework is first used to identify climate variables that have statistically significant associations with internal migration. The gravity model is then embedded within a population projection model to evaluate the effect of climate scenarios on regional populations. Of the climate variables, only surface radiation in the origin exhibits a significant association with internal migration. Including this variable in the population projection model makes a small difference to the regional population distribution, and the difference between different climate scenarios is negligible. Overall, the results suggest that, while statistically significant, climate change in the form of changes in the distribution of the weather will have a negligible effect on the population distribution of New Zealand at the regional level. These null results probably reflect the high capacity for adaptation to climate change available to a developed country.


Climate change Internal migration Gravity model New Zealand 



The author is grateful to Jacques Poot for useful comments and suggestions regarding the population projections model, to Sialupapu Siameja for excellent research assistance, and to the editor and four anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. The usual disclaimer applies.

Funding information

This research was funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as part of the Climate Change Impacts and Implications project (Contract C01X1225), led by Andrew Tait (NIWA) and Daniel Rutledge (Landcare Research).


  1. Adamo, S. B. (2010). Environmental migration and cities in the context of global environmental change. Curr Opin Environ Sustain, 2(3), 161–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adamo, S. B., & Izazola, H. (2010). Human migration and the environment. Popul Environ, 32, 105–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alimi, O., Maré, D.C., and Poot, J. (2015). Does distance still matter for internal migration and, if so, how? Evidence from 1986 to 2006. In Morrison, P.S. (Ed.), Labour, Employment and Work in New Zealand - Proceedings of the LEW16 Conference, November 27–28 2014. Wellington: School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington.Google Scholar
  4. Anderson, J. E., & van Wincoop, E. (2003). Gravity with gravitas: a solution to the border puzzle. American Economic Review, 93(1), 170–192.Google Scholar
  5. Backhaus, A., Martinez-Zarzoso, I., & Muris, C. (2015). Do climate variations explain bilateral migration? A gravity model analysis. IZA Journal of Migration, 4(3), 1–15.Google Scholar
  6. Bardsley, D. K., & Hugo, G. J. (2010). Migration and climate change: examining thresholds of change to guide effective adaptation decision-making. Popul Environ, 32, 238–262.Google Scholar
  7. Beine, M., & Parsons, C. (2015). Climatic factors as determinants of international migration. Scand J Econ, 117(2), 723–767.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beine, M., Bertoli, S., & Fernandez-Huertas Moraga, J. (2015). A practitioners’ guide to gravity models of international migration. World Econ, 39(4), 496–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Biddle, J. E. (2012). Air conditioning, migration, and climate-related wage and rent differentials. Res Econ Hist, 28, 1–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Black, R., Adger, W. N., Arnell, N. W., Dercon, S., Geddes, A., & Thomas, D. S. G. (2011). The effect of environmental change on human migration. Glob Environ Chang, 21S, S3–S11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Borjas, G. J. (1999). The economic analysis of immigration. In O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (Eds.), Handbook of Labour Economics (Vol. 3, pp. 1697–1760). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  12. Boustan, L. P., Kahn, M. E., & Rhode, P. W. (2012). Moving to higher ground: migration response to natural disasters in the early twentieth century. Am Econ Rev, 102(3), 238–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Burkett, V. R., Suarez, A. G., Bindi, M., Conde, C., Mukerji, R., Prather, M. J., et al. (2014). Point of departure. In C. B. Field, V. R. Barros, D. J. Dokken, K. J. Mach, M. D. Mastrandrea, T. E. Bilir, et al. (Eds.), Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part A: global and sectoral aspects. contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (pp. 169–194). Cambridge, and New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Cameron, M. P. (2013). The demographic implications of climate change for Aotearoa New Zealand: a review. New Zealand Population Review, 39, 121–142.Google Scholar
  15. Cameron, M. P., & Poot, J. (2011). Lessons from stochastic small-area population projections: the case of Waikato subregions in New Zealand. J Popul Res, 28(2–3), 245–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cameron, M. P., & Poot, J. (2014). Developing a systems-based multi-region stochastic population projections model for New Zealand (pp. 12–15). Washington, D.C.: Paper presented at the 61st Annual North American Meetings of the Regional Science Association International.Google Scholar
  17. Cohen, J. E., Roig, M., Reuman, D. C., & GoGwilt, C. (2008). International migration beyond gravity: a statistical model for use in population projections. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, 105(40), 15269–15274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Collins, W. J., Bellouin, N., Doutriaux-Boucher, M., Gedney, N., Halloran, P., Hinton, T., et al. (2011). Development and evaluation of an earth-system model—HadGEM2. Geosci Model Dev, 4, 1051–1075.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Curtis, K. J., & Schneider, A. (2011). Understanding the demographic implications of climate change: estimates of localized population predictions under future scenarios of sea-level rise. Popul Environ, 33, 28–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. de Sherbinin, A., Castro, M., Gemenne, F., Cernea, M., Adamo, S., Fearnside, P., et al. (2011). Preparing for resettlement associated with climate change. Science, 334(6055), 456–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dell, M., Jones, B. F., & Olken, B. A. (2014). What do we learn from the weather? The new climate-economy literature. J Econ Lit, 52(3), 740–798.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Feng, S., Oppenheimer, M., and Schlenker, W. (2012). Climate change, crop yields, and internal migration in the United States. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 17734. Boston: National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  23. Fielding, A. J. (2011). The impacts of environmental change on UK internal migration. Glob Environ Chang, 21S, S121–S130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Findlay, A. M. (2011). Migrant destinations in an era of environmental change. Glob Environ Chang, 21S, S50–S58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fussell, E., Curtis, K. J., & DeWaard, J. (2014). Recovery migration to the City of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina: a migration systems approach. Popul Environ, 35, 305–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Garnaut, R. (2011). The Garnaut review 2011: Australia in the global response to climate change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Graves, P. E. (1980). Migration and climate. J Reg Sci, 20, 227–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gray, C. L., & Mueller, V. (2012). Natural disasters and population mobility in Bangladesh. Proc Natl Acad Sci, 109(16), 6000–6005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gröschl, J., & Steinwachs, T. (2017). Do natural hazards cause international migration? CESIfo Economic Studies, 63(4), 445–480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hanjra, M. A., & Qureshi, M. E. (2010). Global water crisis and future food security in an era of climate change. Food Policy, 35(5), 365–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hinkel, J., van Vuuren, D. P., Nicholls, R. J., & Klein, R. J. T. (2013). The effects of mitigation and adaptation on coastal impacts in the 21st century. An application of the DIVA and IMAGE models. Clim Chang, 117(4), 783–794.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hugo, G. (2011). Population distribution, migration and climate change in Australia: An exploration. ACCARNSI Discussion Paper Q. Gold Coast: National Climate Change Research Facility.Google Scholar
  33. Hornbeck, R. (2012). The enduring impact of the American Dust Bowl: short- and long-run adjustments to environmental catastrophe. Am Econ Rev, 102(4), 1477–1507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hugo, G. (1996). Environmental concerns and international migration. Int Migr Rev, 30, 105–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2014). Summary for policymakers. In C. B. Field, V. R. Barros, D. J. Dokken, K. J. Mach, M. D. Mastrandrea, T. E. Bilir, et al. (Eds.), Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part A: global and sectoral aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (pp. 1–32). Cambridge, and New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  36. International Organization for Migration (IOM). (2015). World migration report 2015. Geneva: IOM.Google Scholar
  37. Jiménez Cisneros, B. E., Oki, T., Arnell, N. W., Benito, G., Cogley, J. G., Döll, P., et al. (2014). Freshwater resources. In C. B. Field, V. R. Barros, D. J. Dokken, K. J. Mach, M. D. Mastrandrea, T. E. Bilir, et al. (Eds.), Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part A: global and sectoral aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (pp. 229–269). Cambridge, and New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Klaiber, H. A. (2014). Migration and household adaptation to climate: a review of empirical research. Energy Econ, 46, 539–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lee, E. (1966). A theory of migration. Demography, 3(1), 47–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lewer, J. J., & Van den Berg, H. (2008). A gravity model of immigration. Econ Lett, 99, 164–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Marchiori, L., Maystadt, J., & Schumacher, I. (2012). The impact of weather anomalies on migration in Sub-Saharan Africa. J Environ Econ Manag, 63(3), 355–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McLeman, R. A., Dupre, J., Ford, L. B., Ford, J., Gajewski, K., & Marchildon, G. (2014). What we learned from the dust bowl: lessons in science, policy, and adaptation. Popul Environ, 35, 417–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ministry for the Environment. (2016). Climate change projections for New Zealand: atmosphere projections based on simulations from the IPCC fifth assessment. Wellington: Ministry for the Environment.Google Scholar
  44. Mueser, P. R., & Graves, P. E. (1995). Examining the role of economic opportunity and amenities in explaining population redistribution. J Urban Econ, 37, 176–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mullan, B., Wratt, D., Dean, S., Hollis, M., Allan, S., Williams, T., et al. (2008). Climate change effects and impacts assessment: a guidance manual for local government in New Zealand (2nd ed.). Wellington: Ministry for the Environment.Google Scholar
  46. Myers, N. (2002). Environmental refugees: a growing phenomenon of the 21st century. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 357(1420), 609–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nicholls, R. J., Marinova, N., Lowe, J. A., Brown, S., Vellinga, P., de Gusmão, D., et al. (2011). Sea-level rise and its possible impacts given a ‘beyond 4°C world’ in the twenty-first century. Phil Trans R Soc A, 369(1934), 161–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. O’Neill, B. C., Carter, T. R., Ebi, K. L., Edmonds, J., Hallegatte, S., Kemp-Benedict, E., et al. (2012). Meeting report of the workshop on the nature and use of new socioeconomic pathways for climate change research. Workshop hosted by the Integrated Science Program, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Mesa Laboratory, Nov. 2–4, 2011, Boulder.Google Scholar
  49. Ouattara, B., & Strobl, E. (2014). Hurricane strikes and local migration in US coastal counties. Econ Lett, 124, 17–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pall, P., Aina, T., Stone, D. A., Stott, P. A., Nozawa, T., Hilberts, A. G. J., et al. (2009). Anthropogenic greenhouse gas contribution to flood risk in England and Wales in autumn 2000. Nature, 470(7334), 382–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. (2015). Preparing New Zealand for rising seas: certainty and uncertainty. Wellington: Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.Google Scholar
  52. Partridge, M. D. (2010). The duelling models: NEG vs amenity migration in explaining US engines of growth. Pap Reg Sci, 89(3), 513–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Piguet, E., Pecoud, A., & de Guchteneire, P. (2011). Migration and climate change: an overview. Refug Surv Q, 30(3), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Poot, J., Alimi, O., Cameron, M. P., & Maré, D. C. (2016). The gravity model of migration: the successful comeback of an ageing superstar in regional science. Investigaciones Regionales - Journal of Regional Research, 36, 63–86.Google Scholar
  55. Porter, J. R., Xie, L., Challinor, A. J., Cochrane, K., Howden, S. M., Iqbal, M. M., et al. (2014). Food security and food production systems. In C. B. Field, V. R. Barros, D. J. Dokken, K. J. Mach, M. D. Mastrandrea, T. E. Bilir, et al. (Eds.), Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part A: global and sectoral aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (pp. 485–533). Cambridge, and New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Poston, D. L., Zhang, L., Gotcher, D. J., & Gu, Y. (2009). The effect of climate on migration: United States, 1995–2000. Soc Sci Res, 38(3), 743–753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Ramos, R. (2016). Gravity models: a tool for migration analysis. IZA World of Labor, 239. Bonn: Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).Google Scholar
  58. Rappaport, J. (2007). Moving to nice weather. Reg Sci Urban Econ, 37, 375–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rees, P., Wohland, P., and Boden, P. (2010). Report on climate change and migration scenario. Applied Research Project 2013/1/3. Luxembourg: ESPON and NIDI.Google Scholar
  60. Roback, J. (1988). Wages, rents, and amenities: Differences among workers and regions. Econ Inq, 26(1), 23–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Samir, K. C., & Lutz, W. (2017). The human core of the shared socioeconomic pathways: population scenarios by age, sex and level of education for all countries to 2100. Glob Environ Chang, 42, 181–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Samir, K. C., Potancokova, M., Bauer, R., Goujon, A., and Striessnig, E. (2013). Summary of data, assumptions and methods for new Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (WIC) population projections by age, sex and level of education for 195 countries to 2011. IIASA Interim Report IR-13-018. Laxenburg: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.Google Scholar
  63. Santos Silva, J. M. C., & Tenreyro, S. (2010). On the existence of the maximum likelihood estimates in Poisson regression. Econ Lett, 107, 310–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Schmidhuber, J., & Tubiello, F. N. (2007). Global food security under climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci, 104(50), 19703–19708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sharma, V., & Hugo, G. (2009). Exploring the population–environment nexus: understanding climate change, environmental degradation and migration in Bangladesh. Marrakech: Paper presented at the 26th International Union for Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) Conference.Google Scholar
  66. Stern, N. (2007). The economics of climate change—the stern review. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Strauss, B. H. (2013). Rapid accumulation of committed sea level rise from global warming. Proc Natl Acad Sci, 110(34), 13699–13700.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tait, A., Sood, A., Mullan, B., Stuart, S., Bodeker, G., Kremser, S., et al. (2016). Updated climate change projections for New Zealand for use in impact studies. Synthesis report RA1. Wellington: National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.Google Scholar
  69. van Vuuren, D. P., Edmonds, J. A., Kainuma, M., Riahi, K., & Weyant, J. (2011). A special issue on the RCPs. Clim Chang, 109(1), 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Warner, K., Ehrhart, C., de Sherbinin, A., Adamo, S., & Chai-Onn, T. (2009). In search of shelter: mapping the effects of climate change on human migration and displacement. Geneva: Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere, Inc. (CARE).Google Scholar
  71. Wong, P. P., Losada, I. J., Gattuso, J.-P., Hinkel, J., Khattabi, A., McInnes, K. L., et al. (2014). Coastal systems and low-lying areas. In C. B. Field, V. R. Barros, D. J. Dokken, K. J. Mach, M. D. Mastrandrea, T. E. Bilir, et al. (Eds.), Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part A: global and sectoral aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (pp. 361–409). Cambridge, and New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics & National Institute of Demographic and Economic AnalysisUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations