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Population and the Environment: Analytical Demography and Applied Population Ethics/Household decisions and their consequences - rural livelihoods, migration & climate

From Complex Time

October 15, 2018
2:05 pm - 2:50 pm


Lori Hunter (UC Boulder)


Proximate natural resources are central to rural household economies in many regions of the Global South. In rural South Africa, for example, gathered reeds are used for market-bound mats or rugs, edible herbs are collected for evening meals and fuel wood is a critical energy source. Yet changing rainfall and temperature regimes are altering local environments, thereby challenging natural-resourced based livelihoods in many areas. One adaptation to such environmental challenges is migration as households either relocate entirely or send a member elsewhere in an effort to diversity income sources. The use of migration as a livelihood adaptation has been documented in a wide variety of contexts ranging from Indonesia to Ecuador, from South Africa to Mexico and this presentation reviews that scholarship. We also review several theoretical perspectives often brought to bear as well as common methodological approaches and critiques. A final examination of research and policy needs structures a conversation about next steps.    

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Post-meeting Reflection

Lori Hunter (UC Boulder) Link to the source page

The meeting has really emphasized the vast potential (and need) for interdisciplinary collaboration in the arena of population and environment. I have long been engaged with the social demographic research community focused on environmental demography, but we have not sufficiently bridged to those with expertise in anthropological or analytical demography nor with those in population ethics.

An important open question for me is "How do we make our research more policy relevant?" With the recent imperative from the IPCC, the research community must come together to generate impactful, meaningful insight that can help in identifying and prioritizing policy and programmatic response -- now.

On the prospective of shifting my own perspective, I don't know that my perspective has changed, but I certainly have greater appreciation for, and understanding of, the myriad ways in which scholars are thinking about population issues, including as related to philosophical questions around population ethics.

I can imagine that this workshop pushes me to more centrally engage anthropological demographers within my own work. Dr. Scott Ortman is an affiliate of the University of Colorado Population Center, for which I'm Director, and I can now better see the potential to consider commonalities and distinctions in population-environment linkages across long periods of time. Key, though, is I would aim to engage this work in ways that would yield impactful findings as related to our contemporary demographic and climate challenges.

Reference Material

Hunter, Luna and Norton (2015) offers a review of the sociological research on migration-environment linkages.

Riosmena, Nawrotzki and Hunter (2018) provides a recent example using census data of migration-environment research.

Black et al. (2011) provides an often-used framework for considering migration-environment linkages.

The collection of papers by Nawrotzki et al. offer a variety of examinations focus on Mexico-US migration as relate to climatic factors.

Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
The effect of environmental change on human migration Richard Black, W. Neil Adger, Nigel W. Arnell, Stefan Dercon, Andrew Geddes, David Thomas Global Environmental Change 2011 459 18
International Climate Migration: Evidence for the Climate Inhibitor Mechanism and the Agricultural Pathway Raphael J. Nawrotzki, Maryia Bakhtsiyarava Population, Space and Place 2017 32 5
Amplification or suppression: Social networks and the climate change-migration association in rural Mexico Raphael J. Nawrotzki, Fernando Riosmena, Lori M. Hunter, Daniel M. Runfola Global Environmental Change 2015 26 6
Rural livelihoods and access to natural capital: Differences between migrants and non-migrants in Madagascar Raphael J. Nawrotzki, Lori M. Hunter, Thomas W. Dickinson Demographic Research 2012 26 4
Climate shocks and rural-urban migration in Mexico: exploring nonlinearities and thresholds Raphael J. Nawrotzki, Jack DeWaard, Maryia Bakhtsiyarava, Jasmine Trang Ha Climatic Change 2017 24 23
Climate shocks and the timing of migration from Mexico Raphael J. Nawrotzki, Jack DeWaard Population and Environment 2016 24 6
Domestic and International Climate Migration from Rural Mexico Raphael J. Nawrotzki, Daniel M. Runfola, Lori M. Hunter, Fernando Riosmena Human Ecology 2016 9 7
Environmental Dimensions of Migration 0 5
Variation by geographic scale in the migration-environment asociation: Evidence from rural South Africa 0 6