Human Ecology

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 687–699 | Cite as

Domestic and International Climate Migration from Rural Mexico

  • Raphael J. Nawrotzki
  • Daniel M. Runfola
  • Lori M. Hunter
  • Fernando Riosmena


Evidence is increasing that climate change and variability may influence human migration patterns. However, there is less agreement regarding the type of migration streams most strongly impacted. This study tests whether climate change more strongly impacted international compared to domestic migration from rural Mexico during 1986–99. We employ eight temperature and precipitation-based climate change indices linked to detailed migration histories obtained from the Mexican Migration Project. Results from multilevel discrete-time event-history models challenge the assumption that climate-related migration will be predominantly short distance and domestic, but instead show that climate change more strongly impacted international moves from rural Mexico. The stronger climate impact on international migration may be explained by the self-insurance function of international migration, the presence of strong migrant networks, and climate-related changes in wage difference. While a warming in temperature increased international outmigration, higher levels of precipitation declined the odds of an international move.


Climate change Rural Mexico Domestic migration International migration Environment 



This article is based on Chapter V of Nawrotzki’s dissertation titled “Climate Change as a Migration Driver in Mexico, 1986-99.” We thank Richard G. Rogers and Fred C. Pampel for insightful comments on the substantive contributions of this research and helpful advice on the statistical model development. We also express our gratitude to Rachel Magennis for her careful editing and helpful suggestions. Many thanks to the journal editor and two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions to improve the quality and clarity of this article.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the Minnesota Population Center (R24 HD041023) and the University of Colorado Population Center (R24 HD066613), funded through grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). In addition, this work received support from the National Science Foundation funded Terra Populus project (NSF Award ACI-0940818).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Grant support listed above was provided independent of research topic, methods, and findings.

Research Ethics

The analyses described in this article were performed using secondary data obtained from various publically available sources as outlined in the Data and Methods section.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raphael J. Nawrotzki
    • 1
  • Daniel M. Runfola
    • 2
  • Lori M. Hunter
    • 3
  • Fernando Riosmena
    • 4
  1. 1.Minnesota Population CenterUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Institute for the Theory and Practice of International RelationsThe College of William and Mary WilliamsburgUSA
  3. 3.Department of Sociology and CU Population Center (Institute of Behavioral Science)University of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA
  4. 4.Department of Geography and CU Population Center (Institute of Behavioral Science)University of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA

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