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I have a new working paper which is joint work with Fabien Prieur (see further information below) who just accepted a professor position at the University of Nanterre in Paris, France. Our paper is entitled “[t]he role of conflict for optimal climate and immigration policy”, and we show the following:

In this article we investigate the role that internal and external conflict plays for optimal climate and immigration policy. Reviewing the empirical literature, we put forward five theses regarding the link between climate change, migration, and conflict. Based on these theses, we then develop a theoretical model in which we take the perspective of the North who unilaterally chooses the number of immigrants from a pool of potential migrants that is endogenously determined by the extent of climate change. Accepting these migrants allows increases in local production which not only increases climate change but also gives rise to internal conflicts. In addition, those potential migrants that want to move due to climate change but that are not allowed to immigrate may induce external conflict. While we show that the external and internal conflict play a significant yet decisively different role, it is the co-existence of both conflicts that makes policy making difficult. Considering only one conflict induces significant immigration but no mitigation. Allowing for both types of conflict, then depending on parameters, either a steady state without immigration but with mitigation will be optimal, or a steady state with a larger number of immigrants but less mitigation. Furthermore, we find the possibility of Skiba points, signaling that optimal policy depends on initial conditions, too. During transition we examine the substitutability and complementarity between the mitigation and immigration policy.

You can find the full paper HERE. In a post during the next days I hope to write a more policy-oriented view of this topic.

 

Some information on my co-author:

Fabien Prieur held a professor position at the University of Montpellier but has now accepted a professor position at the University of Nanterre. Fabien also holds a visiting position at Toulouse School of Economics. He is a researcher in environmental and resource economics and has published, among others, in journals such as the European Economic Review, Economic Theory,  and Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control. If you google his images then he is the guy with the beard and glasses, not the one with the gold chain and the beers…

wordle 2 I am happy to annonce that my article entitled “Is environmentally induced income variability a driver of human migration?“, co-authored with Luca Marchiori and Jean-François Maystadt, has been accepted for publication in the journal Migration and Development. Luca Marchiori is a researcher who currently works at the Central Bank of Luxembourg, while Jean-François Maystadt is now a senior lecturer at the University of Lancaster. I have known them both from our time as PhD students in Louvain-la-Neuve, and we have co-authored the article on which this one is built, entitled “The Impact of Weather Anomalies on Migration in sub-Saharan Africa“, which has been published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management in 2012.

Here is a quick summary of the article:

The role of environmentally induced income variability as a determinant of migration has been studied little to none. We provide a theoretical discussion based on a ‘risk aversion channel’ and an overview of the empirical literature on this. We also extend a previous empirical study on 39 sub-Saharan African countries with yearly data from 1960 to 2000 by including income variability and its weather determinants. Our findings lead us to acknowledge that, based on our dataset and methodology, income variability is a negligible driver of migration decisions at the macroeconomic level.

 So why is this interesting?

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First – a little bit of history on this. In 2012, myself and two very nice co-authors, Luca Marchiori and Jean-Francois Maystadt, published a paper entitled “The impact of weather anomalies on migration in sub-Saharan Africa” in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. Some time later, our paper (the previous working paper version, but not much different to the published one) was put under fire in another article (Lilleør and Van den Broeck 2011). This paper suggested that income variability was omitted in our work which would thus bias our results.

We were a little surprised about this, since only our paper was addressed along these lines while clearly any article in this line of literature should also have been criticised long these lines. These critics spiced us up, motivated us to get back to our original work and re-think it with the criticisms that we received in mind. And so that we did. And then we saw the same thought coming up in a first draft of the new IPCC report, page 21 (by the way – read the report it is a nice one).

And now, exclusively for the readers here, we have a new paper discussing whether it makes sense to introduce income variability into these migration frameworks, study its role, and see whether there is really an omitted variable bias in our work or not. Find out about all this and more,  HERE. Enjoy!

Abstract:

It was recently suggested that the role of environmentally-induced income variability as a determinant of migration has been studied little to none. We provide a theoretical discussion and an overview of the empirical literature on this. We also extend a previous empirical study of ours by including income variability. Our findings lead us to acknowledge that income variability is a negligible driver of migration decisions at the macroeconomic level.

UPDATE (25 July 2013): Michael Oppenheimer just contacted us (me and my co-authors) and let us know that in the second draft of the IPCC report the criticism is taken out. Let us note that the critics of Lilleør and Van den Broeck were not wrong ex ante. In my opinion they simply tried to point out that in a microeconomic study the variable income variability was found to be important, while no macroeconomic study had picked up on this.

But if one then thinks more carefully – like we hopefully did in our new working paper – about the reasons for which macroeconomic studies should use income variability (instead of, or in conjunction with, the income level) as a determinant of migration, then the case for income variability seems shaky at most…

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