Amplification or suppression: Social networks and the climate change-migration association in rural Mexico

Raphael J. Nawrotzki, Fernando Riosmena, Lori M. Hunter, Daniel M. Runfola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Increasing rates of climate migration may be of economic and national concern to sending and destination countries. It has been argued that social networks-the ties connecting an origin and destination-may operate as "migration corridors" with the potential to strongly facilitate climate change-related migration. This study investigates whether social networks at the household and community levels amplify or suppress the impact of climate change on international migration from rural Mexico. A novel set of 15 climate change indices was generated based on daily temperature and precipitation data for 214 weather stations across Mexico. Employing geostatistical interpolation techniques, the climate change values were linked to 68 rural municipalities for which sociodemographic data and detailed migration histories were available from the Mexican Migration Project. Multi-level discrete-time event-history models were used to investigate the effect of climate change on international migration between 1986 and 1999. At the household level, the effect of social networks was approximated by comparing the first to the last move, assuming that through the first move a household establishes internal social capital. At the community level, the impact of social capital was explored through interactions with a measure of the proportion of adults with migration experience. The results show that rather than amplifying, social capital may suppress the sensitivity of migration to climate triggers, suggesting that social networks could facilitate climate change adaptation in place.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-474
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article is based on Chapter VI of Raphael Nawrotzki’s dissertation titled “Climate Change as a Migration Driver in Mexico, 1986–99”. The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the Minnesota Population Center ( 5R24HD041023 ) and the University of Colorado Population Center ( R24HD066613 ), funded through grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) . In addition, this work received support from the National Science Foundation funded Terra Populus project (NSF Award ACI-0940818 ). We thank Richard G. Rogers and Fred C. Pampel for insightful comments on the substantive contributions of this research and helpful advice on the statistical model development. We also express our thanks to Gina Rumore for her careful editing and suggestions. And last but not least, special thanks to two anonymous reviewers and the journal editors for helpful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Amplification mechanism
  • Climate change
  • International migration
  • Rural Mexico
  • Social networks
  • Suppression mechanism


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