Comparing Underlying Drivers of South-North Migration in Central America and West Africa
Principal Investigator: Alex de Sherbinin, Columbia University Climate School
Co-Investigators: Michael J. Puma, Columbia University Climate School, and David Wrathall, Oregon State University
Years of Award: 2022-2025
Managing Service Agency: Air Force Office of Scientific Research
The recent migration crises on the United States’ and Europe’s southern borders represent both humanitarian challenges and fundamental threats to national sovereignty and security. While climate-related extremes such as cyclones, floods, and drought currently mostly act as risk multipliers in the chain of causality, climate-related mobility may intensify as climate change impacts worsen over the coming decades. Understanding the drivers of the flows in respective source areas – Central America and West Africa, respectively – is seen as critical to policy responses, and decision makers are increasingly reliant on actionable social science research to design appropriate policies. This research will seek to answer a set of key questions that illuminate the similarities and differences across the two regions in drivers of migration; the degree to which climate factors versus individual, structural, and governance factors play a role in contributing to migration flows; and how flows may change owing to combined changes in social, political, economic and climate factors. To answer these questions, the team will harness cutting-edge research methodologies and will be guided by current migration theory.