Extreme climate change drives South Africa’s domestic migration

Using a modified network modeling approach, Princeton researchers specifically investigated water availability, extreme temperatures, and socio-economic status of migrants during the two migration periods in South Africa. .. They found that residents are often more likely to leave areas suffering from climate instability, and areas with more reliable climates are more likely to attract migrants.Credits: Egan Jimenez, Princeton University

As the climate crisis worsens, some South Africans are migrating to more stable climatic conditions, according to a study led by researchers at Princeton University.

Using a modified network modeling approach, the team specifically Water availability, Extreme temperatureAnd the socio-economic status of immigrants between the two transfer South African era. They found that residents are often more likely to leave areas suffering from climate instability, and areas with more reliable climates are more likely to attract migrants.

Some of the biggest migration differences were seen between people relocating to urban areas or non-urban areas such as agricultural land. Immigrants moving to urban areas often left places with heavy rain. You may move to escape the floods of the city. However, people moving to areas other than urban areas left the place with excessive heat. This may indicate a temperature-sensitive livelihood from agriculture.

Socio-economic factors also seemed to play a role.Some immigrants Urban area In particular, I was motivated by the fluctuations in the national unemployment rate. Non-urban immigrants appeared to be particularly affected by external factors that were not explicitly modeled, such as the abolition of apartheid policy in the late 1990s.

The findings published in Population and Environment show the benefits of investigating migrations using network modeling (often not used in this context). Thanks to the model, the research team was able to investigate the geographic network of the district as well as individual migrations.

“This type of model presents a promising way to conceptualize and analyze the flow of migration,” said Michael Oppenheimer, Professor Albert G. Milbank of the Institute for Global Sciences and International Affairs at the High Meadows Institute for Environmental Studies. Says. “We believe it can be applied to conflict analysis in a variety of situations, including other migration cases, different types of network flows, and climate-induced migration predictions in warmer worlds.

The study was led by assistant Tingyin Xiao under the guidance of Oppenheimer.

“In South Africa, average temperatures are expected to rise significantly, precipitation patterns will change, and extreme water scarcity will be exacerbated. South Africa has a very high internal migration rate, so it is the focus of our research. We chose South Africa, “said Xiao, who is based in the Energy and Environment Policy Research Center of the Princeton School of Public International Affairs.

Xiao and Oppenheimer conducted a study in collaboration with Xiaogang He, a graduate student of Princeton University’s PEI-STEP and now an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore. Marina Mastrolillo, an economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The team collected migration and socio-economic information from community and censuses provided by Statistics South Africa. They looked at the number of adults between the ages of 15 and 64 who moved from one district to another within five years. The period of the survey was between 1997 and 2001 and 2007 and 2011. These periods were selected based on the available data. Also, these periods occurred after apartheid, which may have affected migration at the time.

After that, the immigrants were divided into two groups. Those who have moved to urban destinations and those who have moved to non-urban destinations. Next, researchers observed the impact of river flow and reservoir levels, excessive heat, rainy season water scarcity, and long-term water availability, reflecting soil moisture conditions, on migration across South Africa. ..

Past studies focused on transitional flows have primarily used “gravitational models” to predict and investigate transitional flows. However, the authors state that this type of model has many limitations and can lead to bias in estimation and results. Instead, researchers modified existing network models that were not previously applied in the context of migration to analyze the impact of each factor on South Africa’s internal migration. This allowed the team to review and observe many factors related to domestic migration and predict their relationships. They were able to identify climate-specific migration patterns and differences in both urban and non-urban immigrants, investigate socio-economic implications, and compare previous migration trends.

The team also confirmed that the previous migration flow affected subsequent migrations. Past migrants can form a connection between places they have moved. This facilitates future movement between these locations. In some cases, past migration patterns may weaken the link that researchers have found between climate change and South African migration. Nevertheless, each migration trend inevitably depends on different climates, destinations, socio-economic and historical factors. Researchers warn that certain results should not be generalized without considering these contextual factors.

The authors believe that this study successfully closes the gap in previous studies. It needs to better understand the impact of climate on migration and prepare more humane and effective migration policies in countries that are experiencing extreme climate conditions or that may accept migrants. It shows that. They advocate further environmental migration research using network models.

The paper “The Impact of Complex Climate Networks on South Africa’s Internal Movements Revealed by Network Models” was published on January 6th. Population and environmentAn open access journal.

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For more information:
Tingyin Xiao et al, Complex Climate and Network Impacts on South Africa’s Internal Movement, Revealed by Network Models, Population and environment (2022). DOI: 10.1007 / s11111-021-00392-8

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Extreme climate change drives South Africa’s domestic migration

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