Climate change and internal migration in Brazil: the role of geography and road infrastructure
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
The analysis exploits exogenous variation in temperatures and precipitation rates across 137 mesoregions in Brazil and examines the response of long-run bilateral migration flows between 1980 and 2010. The empirical evidence is based notably on a novel road dataset we constructed by digitizing historical maps of road infrastructure, including all roads ranging from dirt roads to multi-lane highways. We combine the road data with geospatial data on climate factors as well as geo-referenced bilateral migration data drawn from decennial censuses. This work examines the increase in the proportion of migrants between mesoregions which accounts for both push and pull factors of migration, as well as the individual decision to migrate for the 1.2 million migrants in our dataset. Our results suggest that migration costs act as a significant deterrent of climate-driven relocation. As the road infrastructure improved overtime, more households moved across mesoregions when facing increased variability of temperature and precipitation, especially poor households relative to middle- or high-income households. In addition, the increase in mobility is particularly strong for households whose main activity is agriculture, though the effect remains significant for manufacturing industries as well, consistent with the literature on how temperatures affect productivity.