Climate related migration in rural Bangladesh: a behavioural model

Maxmillan Martin, Motasim Billah, Tasneem Siddiqui, Chowdhury Abrar, Richard Black, Dominic Kniveton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Research into the climate change and migration nexus has often focussed solely on how people move in response to the impacts of variability and change in climate. This notion often ignores the nature of migration as a tried and tested livelihood choice amid a variety of socio-economic and environmental opportunities and limitations. This paper closely looks at the behavioural aspects of migration decision-making in Bangladesh in the context of changes in its economy, and, increasingly, exposure to the impacts of climate variability and change. We find that villagers in areas particularly affected by increasing climatic stresses and shocks are diversifying their traditional livelihood strategies by migrating. Environmental factors, including climatic stresses and shocks, often make such shifts even more necessary. Although the migrants’ primary motivation is better income, in effect, migration becomes an effective form of adaptation. Based on a qualitative study in three geographically distinct places of Bangladesh, we propose that migration is a socially acceptable behaviour that occurs in the context of perceived environmental change and climate variability. Migration decisions are mediated by a set of ‘behavioural factors’ that assesses the efficacy of different responses to opportunities and challenges, their socio-cultural acceptance and the ability to respond successfully. This understanding has policy relevance for climate change adaptation, in terms of both how migrants are perceived and how their movements are planned for.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-110
Number of pages26
JournalPopulation and Environment
Early online date15 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


  • Climate change
  • Hazards
  • Cognitive model
  • Adaptation
  • Decision-making
  • Planned behaviour


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