Apr 9, 2019

How climate change affects urbanization trends

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new study concludes that rising temperatures have trimmed rural-to-urban migration within very poor nations while slightly increasing it in middle-income countries.

Why it matters: The analysis, released via the National Bureau of Economic Research, provides a deeper understanding about how warming has already begun affecting human movement — and will in the future.

The impact: "We project that expected warming in the next century will encourage further urbanization in middle-income countries such as Argentina, but it will slow down urban transition in poor countries like Malawi and Niger."

What they did: Researchers with UC Davis and the University of Idaho looked at migration data for huge numbers of relatively small geographic "cells" worldwide from 1970 to 2000.

  • They combined it with other data on temperatures, population and precipitation in the same regions.
  • They broke up countries into 3 wide groups: nations in the bottom 25% of per capita GDP, the middle 50%, and the top 25%.

What they found: The middle-income group showed the most internal migration to cities. A big takeaway: Declines in rural productivity, including lower crop yields stemming from climate change, have different effects on poor vs. middle-income nations.

  • Why? They see a vicious cycle in very poor places: Hotter temperatures cut rural productivity, making migration costs even less feasible.
  • "On the other hand, rising temperatures increase out-migration from rural areas in middle-income countries because temperature shocks widen the rural-urban income gaps, which work to strengthen individuals’ incentives to migrate, once they can pay for migration costs," the study states.

Go deeper: Youth protests sweep the globe demanding action on climate change

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Data: Axios reporting; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

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The big picture: This is the latest state to announce policies to enforce social distancing. More than 1.5 billion people worldwide were asked to stay home Monday.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 a.m. ET: 737,929 — Total deaths: 35,019 — Total recoveries: 156,507.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 a.m. ET: 143,055 — Total deaths: 2,513 — Total recoveries: 4,865.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30.
  4. Trump latest: The president brushed aside allegations that China is spreading misinformation about the origin of the coronavirus on "Fox & Friends."
  5. Business updates: Americans are calm about their retirement savings despite coronavirus fallout.
  6. World updates: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will self-isolate after an aide tested positive for coronavirus.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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