Empirical research on international environmental migration: a systematic review


Journal Article


Obokata, R.
Veronis, L.
McLeman, R.


Empirical research on international environmental migration: a systematic review




Population and Environment

Vol (No), pp

36(1), 111-135


This paper presents the findings of a systematic review of scholarly publications that report empirical findings from studies of environmentally-related international migration. There exists a small, but growing accumulation of empirical studies that consider environmentally-linked migration that spans international borders. These studies provide useful evidence for scholars and policymakers in understanding how environmental factors interact with political, economic and social factors to influence migration behavior and outcomes that are specific to international movements of people, in highlighting promising future research directions, and in raising important considerations for international policymaking. Our review identifies countries of migrant origin and destination that have so far been the subject of empirical research, the environmental factors believed to have influenced these migrations, the interactions of environmental and non-environmental factors as well as the role of context in influencing migration behavior, and the types of methods used by researchers. In reporting our findings, we identify the strengths and challenges associated with the main empirical approaches, highlight significant gaps and future opportunities for empirical work, and contribute to advancing understanding of environmental influences on international migration more generally. Specifically, we propose an exploratory framework to take into account the role of context in shaping environmental migration across borders, including the dynamic and complex interactions between environmental and non-environmental factors at a range of scales.


Obokata, R., et al. (2014). “Empirical research on international environmental migration: a systematic review.” Population and Environment 36(1): 111-135. URL : http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11111-014-0210-7