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The Determinants of Environmental Migrants' Conflict Perception

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 June 2018

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Migration is likely to be a key factor linking climate change and conflict. However, our understanding of the factors behind and consequences of migration is surprisingly limited. We take this shortcoming as a motivation for our research and study the relationship between environmental migration and conflict at the micro level. In particular, we focus on environmental migrants' conflict perceptions. We contend that variation in migrants' conflict perception can be explained by the type of environmental event people experienced in their former home, whether gradual, and long-term or sudden-onset, short-term environmental changes. We develop this argument before quantitatively analyzing newly collected micro-level data on intra-state migration from five developing countries. The results emphasize that migrants who experienced gradual, long-term environmental events in their former homes are more likely to perceive conflict in their new location than those having experienced sudden, short-term environmental events. These findings are in line with our theoretical argument that environmental migrants who suffer from environmentally induced grievances are ultimately more likely to perceive conflict and challenges in their new locations.

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Copyright © The IO Foundation 2018 

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We thank Gerald Schneider, Roos van der Haer, and Nina von Uexkull as well as three anonymous reviewers and the journal editor for their helpful comments. This research is part of the project “Environmental Change and Migration” funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS).


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