The economic interaction between climate change mitigation, climate migration and poverty

Abstract

Mitigation of anthropogenic climate change takes place against the backdrop of poor countries being most affected by climate change impacts; climate-induced migration is expected to increase in the future. However, the interaction between mitigation, climate migration and poverty has not been investigated explicitly. Here, we represent simultaneous poverty- and climate-induced migration in a laboratory setting, within the collective-risk social dilemma that arises from attempts to avert dangerous climate change. The relatively rich participants try to prevent migration by the relatively poor but in the long run these attempts are unsuccessful because of free-riding among the rich. The rich are willing to increase their effort at averting dangerous climate change when the poor are hit by a climate extreme event exacerbating their poverty. Conversely, the poor are willing to compensate some weaker effort by the rich, as long as the effort by the rich lies above a threshold emerging within the experiment.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Migration between rich and poor countries.
Fig. 2: The course of a climate event.
Fig. 3: Investment in climate mitigation and payoff.
Fig. 4: Investment in climate mitigation during climate event.
Fig. 5: Net effect of climate event during poverty migration.
Fig. 6: Relation between poor and rich player contributions.

Data availability

The dataset generated and analysed during the current study is available at https://pure.mpg.de/pubman/faces/ViewItemFullPage.jsp?itemId=item_3217143 and http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-5492-6. Source Data for Figs. 16 and Extended Data Figs. 14 are provided with the paper.

Code availability

The data analysis code is available from the corresponding author on request.

References

  1. 1.

    Adger, W. N. et al. in Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (eds Field, C. B. et al.) 755–791 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014).

  2. 2.

    Winsemius, H. C. et al. Disaster risk, climate change, and poverty: assessing the global exposure of poor people to floods and droughts. Environ. Dev. Econ. 23, 328–348 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Hallegatte, S., Fay, M. & Barbier, E. B. Poverty and climate change: an introduction. Environ. Dev. Econ. 23, 217–233 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Hansen, J. et al. Climate risk management and rural poverty reduction. Agric. Syst. 172, 28–46 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Zander, K. K., Surjan, A. & Garnett, S. T. Exploring the effect of heat on stated intentions to move. Clim. Change 138, 297–308 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Shayegh, S. Outward migration may alter population dynamics and income inequality. Nat. Clim. Change 7, 828–832 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    McLeman, R. International migration and climate adaptation in an era of hardening borders. Nat. Clim. Change 9, 911–918 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Black, R. et al. The effect of environmental change on human migration. Glob. Environ. Change 215, S3–S11 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Cattaneo, C. & Peri, G. The migration response to increasing temperatures. J. Dev. Econ. 122, 127–146 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Ravenstein, E. G. The laws of migration. J. R. Stat. Soc. 48, 167–235 (1885).

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Bourne, S. Discussion of Mr. Ravenstein’s paper. J. R. Stat. Soc. 52, 303 (1889).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Lee, E. S. A theory of migration. Demography 3, 47–57 (1966).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Stark, O. & Bloom, E. D. The new economics of labor migration. Am. Econ. Rev. 75, 173–178 (1985).

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Porumbescu, A. Defining the new economics of labor migration theory boundaries: a sociological-level analysis of international migration. RSP 45, 55–64 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Stark, O. The Migration of Labour (Basic Blackwell, 1991).

  16. 16.

    McLeman, R. Settlement abandonment in the context of global environmental change. Glob. Environ. Change 21, S108–S120 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Chen, J. & Mueller, V. Coastal climate change, soil salinity and human migration in Bangladesh. Nat. Clim. Change 8, 981–985 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Mastrorillo, M. et al. The influence of climate variability on internal migration flows in South Africa. Glob. Environ. Change 39, 155–169 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Böhm, R., Theelen, M. M. P., Rusch, H. & Van Lange, P. A. M. Costs, needs, and integration efforts shape helping behaviour toward refugees. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 115, 7284–7289 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Abel, G. J., Brottrager, M., Guaresma, J. C. & Muttarak, R. Climate, conflict and forced migration. Glob. Environ. Change 54, 239–249 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Smith, V. L. Papers in Experimental Economics (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010).

  22. 22.

    Milinski, M., Sommerfeld, R. D., Krambeck, H.-J., Reed, F. A. & Marotzke, J. The collective-risk social dilemma and the prevention of simulated dangerous climate change. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 2291–2294 (2008).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Milinski, M., Röhl, T. & Marotzke, J. Cooperative interaction of rich and poor can be catalyzed by intermediate climate targets. Clim. Change 109, 807–814 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Tavoni, A., Dannenberg, A., Kallis, G. & Löschel, A. Inequality, communication, and the avoidance of disastrous climate change in a public goods game. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 108, 11825–11829 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Chen, X., Szolnoki, A. & Perc, M. Risk-driven migration and the collective-risk social dilemma. Phys. Rev. E 86, 036101-1-8 (2012).

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Jacquet, J. et al. Intra- and intergenerational discounting in the climate game. Nat. Clim. Change 3, 1025–1028 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Burton-Chellow, M. N., May, R. M. & West, S. A. Combined inequality in wealth and risk leads to disaster in the climate change game. Clim. Change 120, 815–830 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Abu Chakra, M. & Traulsen, A. Under high stakes and uncertainty the rich should lend the poor a helping hand. J. Theor. Biol. 341, 123–130 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Milinski, M., Hilbe, C., Semmann, D., Sommerfeld, R. & Marotzke, J. Humans choose representatives who enforce cooperation in social dilemmas through extortion. Nat. Commun. 7, 10915 (2016).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Hagel, K., Milinski & Marotzke, J. The level of climate-change mitigation depends on how humans assess the risk arising from missing the 2°C target. Palgrave Commun. 3, 17027 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Vincens, J. et al. Resource heterogeneity leads to unjust effort distribution in climate change mitigation. PLoS ONE 13, e0204369 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Waichman, I., Requate, T., Karde, M. & Milinski, M. Challenging Conventional Wisdom: Experimental Evidence on Heterogeneity and Coordination in Avoiding a Collective Catastrophic Event KCG Working Paper no.19 (Kiel Institute for the World Economy, 2019).

  33. 33.

    Schneider, S. H. What is ‘dangerous climate change’? Nature 411, 17–19 (2001).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Meinshausen, M. et al. Greenhouse-gas emission targets for limiting global warming to 2 °C. Nature 458, 1158–1162 (2009).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Peters, G. P. et al. The challenge to keep global warming below 2 °C. Nat. Clim. Change 3, 4–6 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    IPCC Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report (eds Core Writing Team, Pachauri, R. K. & Meyer L. A.) (IPCC, 2014).

  37. 37.

    Hardin, G. The tragedy of the commons. Science 162, 1243–1248 (1968).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Gao, B., Liu, X., Hou, S., Jia, D. & Du, M. Resolving public goods dilemma by giving the poor more support. Appl. Math. Comput. 362, 124529 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Gächter, S., Mengel, F., Tsakas, E. & Vostroknutov, A. Growth and inequality in public good provision. J. Public Econ. 150, 1–13 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Fischbacher, U. z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments. Exp. Econ. 10, 171–178 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Sokal, R. R. & Rohlf, F. J. Biometry 2nd edn (W. H. Freeman, 1981).

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank the students from the universities of Hamburg and Kiel for their participation. We also thank H. Brendelberger and S. Dobler for logistic support. M.M. acknowledges discussion at the NIMBioS sustainability conference at Knoxville. This study was supported by the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

M.M. conceived the study. M.M. and J.M. designed the study. D.S. wrote the z-Tree program. D.S. and M.M. performed the research. M.M. analysed the data. M.M. and J.M. wrote the paper and all authors revised the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Jochem Marotzke or Manfred Milinski.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Peer review information Nature Climate Change thanks Reuben Kline, Mathew Hauer and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Harvest per inhabitant per round (€).

in the rich country and the poor country dependent on the number of inhabitants. (a) with low overall harvest in T0 and T1, (b) with high overall harvest in T2. Source data

Extended Data Fig. 2 Number of complete blockades.

Mean + s.e.m. per group in T0, T1 and T2. P after Mann–Whitney U-test, n1 = 14, n2 = 14, z = −2.955. Effective blockings (mean ± s.e.m.) per group: 2.5 ± 0.7 in T0, 1.8 ± 0.2 in T1, and 7.1 ± 1.7 in T2, respectively. Source data

Extended Data Fig. 3 Risk of climate event.

Group size per group (mean ±s.e.m.) in the last 5 rounds per round in the poor country in T0, in T1 and T2 dependent on the risk of a climate event to occur of either 0%, n = 13, 10%, n = 7, or 20%, n = 7, per round. There are fewer inhabitants in the poor country during the last five rounds with increasing risk of climate events (n = 3 treatments, P = 0.005, h = 10.534, Kruskal–Wallis test). Source data

Extended Data Fig. 4 Absolute Spearman rank correlation coefficients.

rho, mean + s.e.m., between contributions of one class of players to contributions of the other class of players in previous round over 19 rounds per group. Poor player reacts to rich player’s contribution in previous round, rich player reacts to poor player’s contribution in previous round; a. T0, n = 13 groups of 10 players each, b. T1, n = 14 groups of 10 players each, c. T2, n = 14 groups of 10 players each; d. T0, 7 groups of 10 players each, where rich players contributed at least €300 total per group, e. T1, 8 groups of 10 players each, where rich players contributed at least €300 total per group. P calculated from Fisher combination test41, a. combining P values from each of 13 (T0), b, c. of 14 (T1, T2), d. of 7 (T0), e. of 8 (T1) independent groups of 10 players each. For each group the Spearman correlation coefficient rho was calculated from 19 rounds, providing a single p-value. Source data

Supplementary information

Source data

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Marotzke, J., Semmann, D. & Milinski, M. The economic interaction between climate change mitigation, climate migration and poverty. Nat. Clim. Chang. 10, 518–525 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-0783-3

Download citation

Further reading