The question of whether environmental conditions influence human migration has recently gained considerable attention, driven by claims that global environmental change will displace large populations. Despite this high level of interest, few quantitative studies have investigated the potential effects of environmental factors on migration, particularly in the developing world and for gradual but pervasive forms of environmental change. To address this, a retrospective migration survey was conducted in rural Ecuador and linked to data on topography, climate, and weather shocks. These data were used to estimate multivariate event history models of alternative forms of mobility (local mobility, internal migration, and international migration), controlling for a large number of covariates. This approach is generalizable to other study areas and responds to calls for the development of more rigorous methods in this field. The results indicate that adverse environmental conditions do not consistently increase rural out-migration and, in some cases, reduce migration. Instead, households respond to environmental factors in diverse ways, resulting in complex migratory responses. Overall, the results support an alternative narrative of environmentally induced migration that recognizes the adaptability of rural households in responding to environmental change.

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