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Title: Navigating a Warming World: Rural-Urban Migration in the Context of Smallholder Farmer Climate Adaptation
Authors: Choquette-Levy, Nicolas
Advisors: OppenheimerLevin, MichaelSimon A
Contributors: Public and International Affairs Department
Keywords: agent-based model
climate adaptation
index insurance
risk perception
rural-urban migration
smallholder farmer
Subjects: Climate change
Environmental studies
South Asian studies
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Over the 21st century, climate change is likely to substantially threaten the viability of many of the world’s smallholder farmer livelihoods through increased risks of extreme droughts, floods, heatwaves, and other hazards. How farmers manage these risks will have significant consequences for several public policy issues, including rural-urban migration. In this dissertation, I employ a mixed-methods framework to explore the fundamental mechanisms by which climate risk and policy interventions shape the migration behavior of smallholder farmers. To do this, I integrate agent-based modelling, evolutionary game theory, survey research, and robust decision-making tools to investigate three multifaceted questions. First, how is climate change likely to affect the use of rural-urban migration by farming households, relative to other adaptation strategies like diversifying crops? Second, how do various decision-making factors, including risk aversion, loss aversion, and pro-social preferences, shape the climate adaptation strategies that are likely to be pursued by farmers? Third, how can policymakers at local and national governance scales design robust policies to improve smallholder farmer resilience to climate shocks? To address these questions, I focus on data and case studies from South Asia, a region that is characterized by a high dependence on small-scale farming, costly livelihood alternatives to subsistence farming (including migration), and high exposure to climate impacts. This dissertation finds that future climate change is likely to exacerbate poverty traps, both by directly reducing crop yields and by constraining farming households’ ability to pursue livelihood alternatives, including migration. Furthermore, while climate risks are already salient to farmers’ economic decision-making, these also increase the perceived riskiness of alternative livelihoods to farming, including international migration and off-farm wage labor. Complementary policy packages, such as pairing cash transfers with risk transfer mechanisms, and combining insurance subsidies with interventions cueing pro-social preferences, can be effective in providing farmers with the financial stability and capital to make effective adaptation investments. However, a lack of coordination across governance scales may impede the ability to meet key policymaking objectives across a range of climate futures. Therefore, effective adaptation interventions need to find complementarities across traditional policy spheres and bureaucratic divisions.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Public and International Affairs

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