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Domestic and international migration intentions in response to environmental stress: A global cross-country analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 2021

Els Bekaert*
Dep of Economics, CESSMIR, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium; UNU-CRIS, Potterierei 72, B-8000Bruges, Belgium
Ilse Ruyssen
Dep of Economics, CESSMIR, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium; IRES, UCLouvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Sara Salomone
Dep of Economics, CESSMIR, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium; UNU-CRIS, Potterierei 72, B-8000Bruges, Belgium
*Corresponding author. E-mail:
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In light of increasing environmental stress and its likely implications for migration patterns, we conduct a cross-country individual-level analysis of the impact of self-reported exposure to environmental stress on people's migration intentions and their destination choice. We simultaneously model intentions to migrate domestically and internationally for 90 countries worldwide in 2010. We find that self-reported exposure to environmental stress increases the probability to intend to migrate both domestically and internationally in the coming year. In absolute terms, the largest impact is obtained for domestic migration, but controlling for the fact that this is the most common form of migration anyway, environmental stress particularly raises intraregional migration intentions. Overall, the effects on migration intentions to the different destinations are strongest in low- and middle-income countries in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, while in high-income countries, and in Europe particularly, environmental stress appears to spur only domestic migration intentions.

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Copyright © Université catholique de Louvain 2021

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