This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Environmental Change and Migration Revisited

As it has become increasingly apparent that global climate change will have very specific local effects in various parts of the world, concern has risen about the impact on current residents of those places that are most affected. The initial ideas were relatively simple: people are going to be forced to migrate elsewhere and this may spawn of host of unintended consequences. A new report from the Migration Policy Institute's Europe office provides a more nuanced view. The initial concern in Europe was whether or not Europe might be inundated by climate change refugees. The authors think not.
That evidence suggests that:

► Increased migration to Europe as a direct result of environmental change is unlikely.

► Those affected by environmental change are more likely to migrate to urban areas where economic opportunities are greater but where there are increased risks of negative climate or environmental change.

► Some populations affected by environmental change may find it difficult to move (and may become, in effect, trapped) even though migration is their best strategy to improve their life chances.

► The increased risk of conflict as a result of environmental change is unproven. In fact, the reverse may be the case (where conflict over scarce resources could be increased by an inability to migrate).
Although the report is a policy brief and is designed to help plan for the future, the above points strike me as a realistic set of testable hypotheses that researchers should be working on, even as policy-planners are thinking of defensive strategies.

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