Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Lori M. Hunter

Second Advisor

Ryan K. Masters

Third Advisor

Fernando Riosmena

Abstract

Climate change is challenging rural livelihoods across the globe and migration is one potential adaptation strategy. However, migration is a difficult endeavor that requires substantial social and financial resources. This suggests that the use of migration as adaptation to climate change is likely a stratified process. In this way, climate change has the potential to reinforce existing inequalities and trap resource poor households in place. Mexico provides the ideal case study to investigate the intersection of climate, migration, and inequality given the strong history of international migration, vulnerability to climate impacts, and high levels of income inequality. Using multilevel discrete-time event-history methods, this study examines the association between climate strain and international migration across rural contexts characterized by low, average, and high socioeconomic marginalization between 1986-2013. This period encompasses the height and decline of Mexico-US migration, as well as large changes to the Mexican economy and agricultural sector which negatively impacted many rural households. Results suggest that precipitation deficits in prior corn growing seasons increase the likelihood of migration from households in average socioeconomic settings, while hot spells increase the probability of migration from households in highly marginalized contexts. Households that sent migrants were more likely to report agricultural employment compared to non-migrants in both settings. Finally, migrant households in the average marginalization group were more likely to own property, while social capital was predictive of migration in high marginalization contexts as migrant households were more likely to have familial ties to US migrants.

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