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Is Internal Migration in Yemen Driven by Climate or Socio-economic Factors?


  • The work benefitted from funding from the Trust Fund for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development at the World Bank. We are especially grateful to Andrea Liverani and two anonymous referees for very helpful comments. The opinions expressed in the paper are however only those of the authors, and need not represent those of the World Bank, its Executive Directors, or the countries they represent.


Identifying the impact of climate on migration is a difficult undertaking because migration is a multi-causal phenomenon, with a wide range of physical, climatic, cultural, and socio-economic factors influencing decisions made by individuals and households. Combining data from the latest census in Yemen with a weather database as well as other geographic information, we assess the push and pull factors that may drive migration. These factors include climatic factors such as temperature and rainfall and their variability, socio-economic factors such as the attractiveness of the areas of origin and destination among others in terms of employment, education, and irrigation, and cost factors as proxied by the distance between the places of origin and destination. The results suggest that climate variables do affect migration, but in a limited way, with socio-economic and cost factors playing a much more prominent role.