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Evidence-based Policy Analysis Seminar: Climate change and internal migration in Brazil: The role of road infrastructure

Thursday, March 14, 2019, 4:00 pm – 5:15 pm

This is the fourth of the Evidence-Based Policy Analysis seminar seriesGuest Speaker: Claire Brunel, American University 

Moderator: Caitlin Brown, Assistant Professor, SPP 

Global warming affects productivity in climate-sensitive sectors thereby creating income shocks, especially for rural households in poor countries. Internal migration represents an important channel through which households can cope with these shocks. In this paper, we exploit exogenous variation in temperatures and precipitation rates across 26 Brazilian states and examine the response in state-to-state migration flows between 1981 and 2010. The empirical analysis incorporates a novel road dataset we constructed by digitizing historical maps of the road networks, combined with geospatial data on climate factors and bilateral migration data from decennial censuses. We find strong evidence that a reduction in travel time is associated with higher levels of cross-state migration absent changes in temperature and precipitation, and that holding travel cost constant states with warming temperatures exhibit higher levels of emigration. Agricultural migrants are particularly affected by rising temperatures and we observe some sectoral switches into less climate-sensitive sectors as a result. Moreover, the findings reveal some important heterogeneity at the regional level based notably on the composition of the crops being planted in different states. 

Professor Brunel’s research focuses on issues at the intersection of environmental economics and international economics. In particular, she studies the links between environmental policies and international competitiveness in terms of technological innovation, manufacturing production, and international trade. She is also interested in providing evidence of the effects of climate change on migration. Prior to coming to SIS, Professor Brunel worked for the Research Department of the World Bank, the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and at the Embassy of France as Trade Policy Attaché.

For further information on his publications please turn to his website

The Evidence-based Policy Analysis seminar series hosted by SPP brings together researchers across multiple departments at CEU interested in empirical issues related to public policy. Invited external speakers from both the academic and public sectors present research that uses rigorous evidence-based methodology to answer pertinent policy questions related to a range of topics, such as economic development, gender equality, demographic trends, and governance.

Next in the Series: Andrea Guariso, Trinity College Dublin. Thursday, March 21, 2019. Nador 15, Quantum 101 4-5:15PM