Labor Adaptation to Climate Variability in Sub-Saharan Africa

Valerie Mueller, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Pioneering work on environmental migration focuses on the role of permanent migration as a key form of adaptation. Focusing on one form of mobility, studies present a narrow view of household-decision making in the context of risk. Rural households face financial constraints when considering to move. Low educational attainment renders limitations in the transferability of workers’ skills. Our main hypothesis is seasonal migration and other forms of employment offer more accessible forms of adaptation to climate change for the rural poor in Africa. In the context of a broad array of employment choices, we aim to contextualize the importance of temporary migration (relative to other occupational choices) in reducing household vulnerability. We address this knowledge gap by conducting a cross-country analysis of labor adaptation strategies using panel surveys in multiple African countries. Underlying motivations for why household members with specific attributes are used to diversify risk are explored.

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Presented in Session 24: Labor Markets, Population, and Development