Exploring the Relationship Between Social Inequality and Environmentally-Induced Migration: Evidence from Urban Household Surveys in Shanghai and Nanjing of China

  • Yan Tan
  • Xuchun Liu
  • Graeme Hugo
Part of the Advances in Global Change Research book series (AGLO, volume 61)


This chapter improves our understanding of the complex relationship between climate change, social inequality, and migration in urban areas. The role of multi-dimensional inequality (material, social, and power inequality ) in influencing spontaneous migration decisions at the household level is examined in urban settings of China’s Yangtze River Delta. This study uses a two-stage econometric framework to demonstrate the complexity of migration decision-making in the context of climate impacts in the study area. The framework allows us to examine how social inequality shapes the severity of climate impact experienced by households, and how social inequality interacts with this experience to influence migration decisions. We pilot this approach in selected metropolitan areas of Shanghai and Nanjing. The results show that all dimensions of social inequality are significantly associated with people’s experience of climate impacts and subsequently their migration decisions. The two-stage framework provides policymakers and planners with a robust tool that can be used to formulate better policy measures that either enable the disadvantaged groups to adapt in situ or provide these groups with real opportunities and capacities to migrate.


Climate change Social inequality Migration In situ adaptation Yangtze river delta China 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, Environment and PopulationUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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