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Weather Variability, Agriculture and Rural Migration: Evidence from State and District Level Migration in India

Brinda Viswanathan and K.S. Kavi Kumar

No 83, Working papers from The South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics

Abstract: This study explores the three-way linkage between weather variability, agricultural performance and internal migration in India. We estimate a two-equation model, which examines variations in weather that influence crop yield and identifies the resulting effect on the rate of migration. The analysis uses two variants of migration data - inter-state out-migration and intra-state district-level in-migration - reported in the Indian Census. The elasticity of the inter-state out-migration rate with respect to per capita net state domestic agricultural product is approximately (-)0.75, indicating that a decline in the value of agricultural output related to weather variations results in an increase in the out-migration rate. The crop-wise analysis shows that a one percent decline in rice (wheat) yield leads to nearly 2 percent (1 percent) increase in the rate of out-migration from a state. The decline in rice yield triggers a higher rate of migration relative to the decline in wheat yield, possibly because of widespread cultivation of rice compared to wheat and involvement of family labor for the cultivation of this labor-intensive crop. Interestingly, the district-level analysis shows larger magnitudes of estimated change in in-migration rates relative to changes in crop yields. The results suggest that the impact of yield changes on the migration rate depend on both the inter-play between inter- and intra-district migration rates as well as the crop under consideration. Migration is certainly a potential adaptation strategy for people adversely affected by the impact of weather and climate change. Our findings suggest that weather related changes in agricultural productivity do contribute to migration in India; however, these inter-linked effects have, at least thus far,been relatively small.

Keywords: Weather Variability; Agricultural Impacts; Internal Migration; Developing Countries; Climate Change; Adaptation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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Working Paper: Weather Variability, Agriculture and Rural Migration: Evidence from State and District Level Migration in India (2015) Downloads
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