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Labour migration amidst ecological change

Labour migration amidst ecological change
Labour migration amidst ecological change
One of the grand questions for research on the impacts of climate change is whether people can rely on migration to safeguard progress towards development even while experiencing severe environmental hardship. This is the ‘migration as adaptation’ hypothesis. Labour migration theory proposes assumptions about the use of migration by people faced with economic uncertainty and limited access to capital to raise standards of development. This paper asks how environmental stress affects labour migration, and evaluates the labour migration arising from a spectrum of ecological stress, from increasingly variable precipitation to catastrophic flooding in Honduras and Malawi. Evidence suggests that environmental stress changes the nature of labour migration. New environmental forms of mobility do not take forms predicted by labour migration theory; migrations are not made with the purpose of exploiting economic opportunities; they do not take place on the basis of rational choice, particularly as displaced persons are frequently emotionally stressed; and among environmental migrants are those less likely to be able to absorb costs and extract benefits associated with migration (i.e. the unwell, the elderly or the unskilled). Nevertheless, social networks still remain the principal medium for conferring access to labour alternatives and resources to invest in migration. In the end, the remittances that environmental migrants send are less likely to be used for investment in development.
climate change, migration, displacement, drought, flooding, new economics of labour migration
2163-2324
1-18
Wrathall, David
dea3928a-8baa-43a1-8fb3-d966aad0ad03
Suckall, Natalie
6403cd8a-dab8-4fed-9136-ab293700d4fe
Wrathall, David
dea3928a-8baa-43a1-8fb3-d966aad0ad03
Suckall, Natalie
6403cd8a-dab8-4fed-9136-ab293700d4fe

Wrathall, David and Suckall, Natalie (2015) Labour migration amidst ecological change. Migration and Development, 1-18. (doi:10.1080/21632324.2015.1022967).

Record type: Article

Abstract

One of the grand questions for research on the impacts of climate change is whether people can rely on migration to safeguard progress towards development even while experiencing severe environmental hardship. This is the ‘migration as adaptation’ hypothesis. Labour migration theory proposes assumptions about the use of migration by people faced with economic uncertainty and limited access to capital to raise standards of development. This paper asks how environmental stress affects labour migration, and evaluates the labour migration arising from a spectrum of ecological stress, from increasingly variable precipitation to catastrophic flooding in Honduras and Malawi. Evidence suggests that environmental stress changes the nature of labour migration. New environmental forms of mobility do not take forms predicted by labour migration theory; migrations are not made with the purpose of exploiting economic opportunities; they do not take place on the basis of rational choice, particularly as displaced persons are frequently emotionally stressed; and among environmental migrants are those less likely to be able to absorb costs and extract benefits associated with migration (i.e. the unwell, the elderly or the unskilled). Nevertheless, social networks still remain the principal medium for conferring access to labour alternatives and resources to invest in migration. In the end, the remittances that environmental migrants send are less likely to be used for investment in development.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 23 February 2015
Published date: 1 June 2015
Keywords: climate change, migration, displacement, drought, flooding, new economics of labour migration
Organisations: Geography & Environment

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 376535
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/376535
ISSN: 2163-2324
PURE UUID: b241354f-b111-4c80-bacd-cb8df5488c9f

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 05 May 2015 13:21
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 21:08

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Contributors

Author: David Wrathall
Author: Natalie Suckall

University divisions

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