Climate, Conflict and Forced Migration

Guy Abel, Michael Brottrager, Jesus Crespo Cuaresma, Raya Muttarak

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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Despite the lack of robust empirical evidence, a growing number of media reports attempt to link climate change
to the ongoing violent conflicts in Syria and other parts of the world, as well as to the migration crisis in Europe.
Exploiting bilateral data on asylum seeking applications for 157 countries over the period 2006-2015, we assess
the determinants of refugee flows using a gravity model which accounts for endogenous selection in order to
examine the causal link between climate, conflict and forced migration. Our results indicate that climatic
conditions, by affecting drought severity and the likelihood of armed conflict, played a significant role as an
explanatory factor for asylum seeking in the period 2011-2015. The effect of climate on conflict occurrence is
particularly relevant for countries in Western Asia in the period 2010-2012 during when many countries were
undergoing political transformation. This finding suggests that the impact of climate on conflict and asylum
seeking flows is limited to specific time period and contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239 - 249
JournalGlobal Environmental Change - Human and Policy Dimensions
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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