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Climate, conflict and forced migration
This paper aims to empirically establish the causal path from climate change to violent conflict and cross-border migration and explore how climate and conflict interplay in influencing asylum seekers flows. Exploiting bilateral refugee flows data for the years 2006–2015 for 157 countries, the study employs sample selection methods for gravity-type models to first estimate the impact of climate on conflict and, secondly, how conflict influences forced migration.
To the best of the researchers' knowledge, the causal link between climate, conflict and migration is investigated for the first time at this level of statistical rigour. The study unpacks conflict as a causal mediator between climate change on the one hand and asylum migration on the other. This study thus provides an empirical assessment of scientific evidence on the popular claim regarding the role of climate change on conflict and migration.
The results suggest that climatic conditions, by affecting drought severity and the likelihood of armed conflict, play a statistically significant role as an explanatory factor for asylum seeking exclusively for countries that were affected by the Arab Spring.
The remainder of the paper is organised as follows. Section 2 provides a review of empirical literature on climate, conflict and migration and discusses the underlying mechanisms through which climate can influence migration. Section 3 describes estimation methods and data. Section 4 presents the main results and additional results from robustness checks. Section 5 discusses the main findings and concludes.