Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Lori M. Hunter

Second Advisor

Fernando Riosmena

Third Advisor

Richard G. Rogers

Fourth Advisor

Fred C. Pampel

Fifth Advisor

Daniel M. Runfola


Grounded in the Sustainable Livelihoods framework, this study investigates the impact of climate change on various migration streams in Mexico, comparing migration from rural versus urban areas, international versus domestic moves, and first versus last moves within households. To measure the effects of climate change on these migration streams, a set of 17 climate change indices, proposed by the Expert Team on Climate Change Detection and Indices (ETCCDI), was generated using daily temperature and precipitation data for 214 Mexican weather stations obtained from the Global Historical Climate Network-Daily (GHCN-D) data set. Cokriging as a method of spatial interpolation was employed to assign climate change index values to 111 Mexican municipalities, for which detailed migration histories and relevant sociodemographic characteristics were obtained from the Mexican Migration Project (MMP). Multi-level event history models were employed to estimate the impact of various climate change indices on household-level migration patterns from 1986 to 1999. The results indicate climate change more strongly impacts migration from rural compared to urban areas and international moves more so than domestic moves. In addition, within households, first moves are more sensitive to climate change than later moves. First international moves from rural areas are the most sensitive streams and are predominantly influenced by warming temperatures and decreasing rainfall. Significant socio-climatic interactions demonstrated that the effect of climate change on migration varies by characteristics such as the proportion of the male labor force employed in the agricultural sector, municipality-level wealth, and access to migrant networks. Investigating the timing of migration suggests a direct response pattern -- the climate signal in the preceding year leads to the strongest migration response and declines in importance thereafter. As compared to other predictors, the strength of the climatic effect is about a tenth of the size of the strongest sociodemographic factors (e.g., social networks). The findings suggest that projected increases in temperature and declines in precipitation over the 21st century may increase Mexico-U.S. migration. Climate change adaptation programs intended to reduce international migration may be most effective when targeted to improve the livelihoods of agricultural-dependent households in rural Mexico.