Migration and Climate Change: Environmental Vulnerability and Location Choice in Bangladesh



Dr. Joyce Chen, Department of Agricultural, Environmental & Development Economics
Rank at time of award: Assistant Professor
Dr. Craig Jenkins, Sociology
Rank at time of award: Professor


This project utilizes an innovative data collection technique to provide estimates of population mobility motivated by environmental stress. Building on existing household surveys, we add modules on mobile phone ownership/use and then conduct follow-up surveys via mobile phones. This approach is unique in that it can provide high frequency data on mobility, essential in a context where individuals often migrate over short distances and for short (<3 months) periods of time, allowing us to assess both the extent and the efficacy of migration as adaptation. These data are then paired with state-of-the-art climate and environmental data, derived from a combination of remote sensing, geodetic, and in situ sources.  We focus on Bangladesh, one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to the adverse effects of climate change. Migration is studied within the context of other adaptation and mitigation efforts in order to gain a complete picture of local resilience. Behavioral considerations will also be integrated into the analysis to identify the underlying impetus for environmental migration, as well as secondary factors that may be either encouraging or inhibiting mobility.


Climate change is poised to have dramatic effects on livelihoods around the world. In order to estimate potential impacts on human health and development and to identify effective adaptation, mitigation, and relief efforts, it is crucial to understand the relationship between environmental vulnerability and population mobility.