Modelling International Migration under Climate Change and Migration Policy

The project aims to develop a computer-based model of international migration that includes the main drivers and determinants, according to the literature: Income differentials, diasporas, and regulatory policies.

In the longer term, we want to use such a model to assess the indirect effects of climate change on international migration, under different policy scenarios. So far, modeling approaches have been developed for studying direct effects of climate change on internal migration, and partly also migration between countries. However, these are region-specific and do not allow studying indirect effects, such as shifts in bilateral income differences due to spatially heterogeneous climate damages; nor can they be generalized to apply to other countries and regions. Thus, there is so far no model that enables a synthesis of international migration flows. Our model will address this important research gap, and in the longer term, should enable a comprehensive quantitative assessment of migration under different climate and policy scenarios. For example, it could be used to study whether, to what extent, and through what mechanisms environmental crises not only emerge as a symptom of globalization, but also as a driver of cultural globalization.

The project unites PIK’s expertise in quantitative climate impacts research and computer-based modeling with WZB’s innovative research on migration, transnationalization, and immigration policies.

Participating Institutes

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

Berlin Social Science Center (WZB)


Kumari Rigaud, K., A. de Sherbinin, B. Jones, J. Bergmann, V. Clement, K. Ober, J. Schewe, S. Adamo, B. McCusker, S. Heuser and A. Midgley (2018): Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration. Washington, DC: The World Bank.

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Dr. Jacob Schewe (PIK)

Prof. Dr. Marc Helbling (WZB)

Dr. Katja Frieler (PIK)

Prof. Dr. Ruud Koopmans (WZB)

Project term

12/2017 - 08/2018