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Environmental migration is a topic which has given rise to widespread debate and gloomy predictions about the state of the world in 2050, but where rigorous research and empirical evidence are unfortunately in short supply. In this paper, we review the existing research on and empirical evidence of how climate change and climate variability in Less Developed Countries (LDCs) affects two main drivers of migration identified by migration models in the economic literature, namely income level differentials between origin and destination areas and income variability in origin areas, and how they in turn affect migration. We find that there are serious gaps in both the economic and the environmental literature that render it impossible to make sound and robust predictions of how climate change and increased climate variability will affect the economic migration drivers, and of how these in turn may change existing migration patterns. There are some empirical indications that income differentials may increase due to lower income levels in the origin areas of LDCs, but virtually no evidence exists of the effects of climate change or increased climate variability on income variability. Furthermore, although a negative relationship between migration and rainfall has been established by many researchers, there is only very limited evidence as to what drives it. A clearer picture of the driving force behind the link between rainfall and migration would greatly benefit policymaking in this area.
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