Climate Portal

Climate Change and Immigration from Mexico

Here is a the press release of a Princeton University report on anticipated Mexican immigration of some millions of adults to the US, forecast in this century from failed crops:  Climate change is expected to cause mass human migration, including immigration across international borders, according to a new study by three Princeton University professors and researchers. The researchers -- all from the University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs -- examined the linkages between variations in climate, agricultural yields and people's migration responses.The researchers concluded in the published study, that their projections indicate that "certain migrant-receiving countries, including the United States, are expected to face increased migration streams as a result of existing transnational networks with migrant-sending countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change."


The work was published online Monday, July 26, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Here is a summary:

Linkages among climate change, crop yields and Mexico–US cross-border migration

  1. Shuaizhang Feng 
  2. Alan B. Krueger  and
  3. Michael Oppenheimer 


Climate change is expected to cause mass human migration, including immigration across international borders. This study quantitatively examines the linkages among variations in climate, agricultural yields, and people's migration responses by using an instrumental variables approach. Our method allows us to identify the relationship between crop yields and migration without explicitly controlling for all other confounding factors. Using state-level data from Mexico, we find a significant effect of climate-driven changes in crop yields on the rate of emigration to the United States. The estimated semielasticity of emigration with respect to crop yields is approximately −0.2, i.e., a 10% reduction in crop yields would lead an additional 2% of the population to emigrate. We then use the estimated semielasticity to explore the potential magnitude of future emigration. Depending on the warming scenarios used and adaptation levels assumed, with other factors held constant, by approximately the year 2080, climate change is estimated to induce 1.4 to 6.7 million adult Mexicans (or 2% to 10% of the current population aged 15–65 y) to emigrate as a result of declines in agricultural productivity alone. Although the results cannot be mechanically extrapolated to other areas and time periods, our findings are significant from a global perspective given that many regions, especially developing countries, are expected to experience significant declines in agricultural yields as a result of projected warming.

nb: Credit for photo: LA Times



Dash, J. (2019). Climate Change and Immigration from Mexico. Retrieved from