Climate change and migration: Reviewing the role of access to agricultural adaptation measures

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This study examines the moderating role of access to agricultural adaptation measures in how climate change is affecting human migration in the middle- and low-income countries. The literature on the association between climate change, agricultural production, and migration has seen a dramatic expansion in the past decade and highlighted the complexity of the process. Yet, a crucial link that is missing in the discussions is the inter-linkage between migration responses and access to in-situ agricultural adaptation measures. To address this gap, I build this study on an emerging approach that treats adaptation to climate change as an additional component of sustainable economic development. I systematically review 81 quantitative and qualitative studies on the nexus of climate change, migration, and agriculture in the middle- and low-income countries and investigate the migration responses of agricultural households in conjunction with access to agricultural adaptation measures. I find a significant overlap between the social class of farmers, their capabilities to adapt in situ, and their migration decisions. The migration responses vary across agricultural households based on access to in-situ adaptation measures.
Additionally, this interaction is heavily moderated by other local contextual factors- such as easy access to credit, participation in social networks, ethnic and social fractionalization, presence of conflicts, and social structures. Based on the findings, I propose a conceptual framework that could aid in deconstructing the migration responses of agricultural households in less-developed countries.
Furthermore, I highlight critical policy gaps in building climate-resilient rural economies and suggest future research agendas with regard to climate change, migration, and agricultural adaptation measures.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2022

Publication series

SeriesUNU-MERIT Working Papers

JEL classifications

  • o13 - "Economic Development: Agriculture; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Other Primary Products"
  • q01 - Sustainable Development
  • o15 - "Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration"
  • q15 - "Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment"
  • r20 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics: Household Analysis: General


  • Climate change
  • Systematic review
  • Economic development
  • Adaptation
  • Agriculture
  • Human mobility


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