Journal Article

Climate migration at the height and end of the great Mexican migration era

Previous research linking climatic variability to Mexico–US migration has been limited to particular social conditions and high migration periods. Using the 2000 and 2010 Mexican censuses, we examine this association across a broader set of contexts of emigration and reception. We find that adverse weather conditions—high temperatures or low rainfall relative to local/seasonal normal levels—are associated, not with higher, but with lower US-bound migration from most of rural Mexico and under most climatic conditions. However, we find some climate-related migration from the least and most marginalized municipalities, as well as from districts with the highest historical migration intensities. Our findings comparing these relationships across periods suggest that climate migration is affected by reception conditions in the US to a similar or lesser degree than other forms of migration. Altogether, these results suggest that rural Mexico is unlikely to produce many international "climate refugees," and that this low likelihood is not heavily influenced by US immigration policy.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.