Population and Environment

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 98–125 | Cite as

Climate-induced cross-border migration and change in demographic structure

  • Joyce Chen
  • Valerie MuellerEmail author
Original Paper


As climate change threatens livelihoods in Bangladesh, migration to neighboring countries in South Asia may accelerate. We use multiple types of data to predict how changes in the environment affect cross-border migration. Nationally representative migration data are combined with remote-sensing measures of flooding and rainfall and in situ measures of monsoon onset, temperature, radiation, and soil salinity to characterize environmental migration patterns. We further evaluate which groups are more susceptible to cross-border migration to examine how environmental factors shape the demographic composition of the country. We find migration to neighboring countries declines with short-term, adverse weather but increases with soil salinity. The soil salinity effect remains particularly persistent among poorer households. Investments targeting risks faced by the poor and non-poor remain crucial, as retention of the earnings skills, and experience of the latter enhances national resilience.


Cross-border migration Climate change Bangladesh 



We thank Kathryn Dotzel, Yuanyuan Jia, and Varuni Sureddy for excellent research assistance and Steven Kuo-Hsin Tseng for graciously sharing his code.

Funding information

Support from the National Science Foundation via the Belmont Forum/IGFA Program (ICER-1342644) and the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development EconomicsOhio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.IZA Institute of Labor EconomicsBonnGermany
  3. 3.School of Politics and Global Studies, International Food Policy Research InstituteArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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