December 12, 2023
Charles A Taylor

Young scholars’ webinars: “Homeward Bound: How Migrants Seek Out Familiar Climates”

Young Scholars' Webinar on Climate Finance and Economics

This paper examines the relationship between climate similarity and migration and documents new evidence of climate matching across time, geography, and migrant groups. First, using historical Censuses, it show that European immigrants during the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1920) selected destinations in the US with similar climates to their home country. Second, it links US and Norwegian Censuses and documents the existence of climate matching within countries. That is, immigrants from colder and wetter parts of Norway settled in colder and wetter parts of the US. Third, it finds that climate similarity predicts internal migration within the US, both historically (1850-1940) and today (2011-2019). It provides evidence that at least two complementary mechanisms can explain these patterns: climate-specific human capital and climate as an amenity. Then, it exploited spatial and temporal variation generated by the 1862 Homestead Act, which offered free land to settlers, to estimate the marginal value of climate. It concludes by discussing the implications of the growing literature on climate change and migration.


Diego Känzig
Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at Northwestern University

Charles A Taylor

Charles A Taylor is an assistant professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, and previously a S.V. Ciriacy-Wantrup postdoc at UC Berkeley ARE. He do applied research on environmental topics. He has taught environmental economics at Columbia, City College of New York, and Fordham University. Before academia, he worked at McKinsey & Company, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as an agricultural consultant, and The Earth Partners LP, a land and environmental investment company, and advise a niche agri-commodity exporting company. He co-founded Drylands Natural Resource Centre, a farmer-owned cooperative and research center. He also have a PhD in Sustainable Development from Columbia University, and a BA in Economics and in Political & Social Thought from the University of Virginia.

Date and time zone

Organizing Committee

Michael Barnett, Arizona State University
Diego Känzig, Northwestern University
Alissa M. Kleinnijenhuis, Cornell University
Ishita Sen, Harvard Business School

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