AccScience Publishing / IJPS / Volume 1 / Issue 1 / DOI: 10.18063/IJPS.2015.01.004

Undocumented migration in response to climate change

Raphael J. Nawrotzki1* Fernando Riosmena2 Lori M. Hunter2 Daniel M. Runfola4
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1 Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota, 225 19th Avenue South, 50 Willey Hall, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
2 Institute of Behavioral Science, CU Population Center, University of Colorado Boulder, 1440 15th St. Boulder, CO 80309, USA
3 The College of William and Mary, 200 Stadium Drive, Williamsburg, VA 23185, USA
© 2015 by the Authors. Licensee AccScience Publishing, Singapore. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (

In the face of climate change-induced economic uncertainties, households may em-ploy migration as an adaptation strategy to diversify their livelihood portfolio through remit-tances. However, it is unclear whether such climate-related migration will be documented or undocumented. In this study we combined detailed migration histories with daily temperature and precipitation information from 214 weather stations to investigate whether climate change more strongly impacted undocumented or documented migrations from 68 rural Mexican mu-nicipalities to the U.S. from 1986−1999. We employed two measures of climate change, the warm spell duration index (WSDI) and precipitation during extremely wet days (R99PTOT). Results from multi-level event-history models demonstrated that climate-related international migration from rural Mexico was predominantly undocumented. We conclude that programs to facilitate climate change adaptations in rural Mexico may be more effective in reducing undo-cumented border crossings than increasing border fortification.

climate change
climate change adaptation
international migration
undocumented migration
documentation status
rural Mexico

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