FEEM Research Seminar on “Climate Variability and Internal Migration Flows: the case of South Africa”
12:30 - 14:00
This talk focuses on environmental migration in South Africa. I will first examine the sources of vulnerability within South Africa that may interact with climate variations to influence migration flows. I will then present my recent econometric study on internal migration in post- apartheid South Africa. In this study, I combine information from censuses and climatic data to build a panel database covering the waves 1997-2001 and 2007-2011. The database enables to fit a gravity model to analyze the effect of spatiotemporal variability in temperature and precipitation on inter-district migration flows defined by five-year intervals, along with a number of geographic, socio-economic and demographic factors traditionally identified as potential drivers of migration. My findings suggest that an increase in positive temperature extremes as well as positive and negative excess rainfall at the origin act as a push effect and enhance out-migration. However, the significance of the effect of climate on migration greatly varies by migrant characteristics. Particularly, flows of black and low-income South African migrants are strongly influenced by climatic variables whereas those of white and high-income migrants exhibit a weak impact. Furthermore, agriculture may function as a transmission channel through which adverse climatic conditions affect migration.