February 2020

IZA DP No. 12984: Does Emigration Affect Pro-Environmental Behaviour Back Home? A Long-Term, Local-Level Perspective

published in: Kyklos, 2021, 74(1): 48-76

This study provides novel evidence on the effects of emigration on pro-environmental behaviour back home. Focusing on the seven successor states of former Yugoslavia, I explore the relationship between people's present-day pro-environmental action and the local-level intensity of a major guestworker emigration wave that occurred four decades earlier. I find that more intense local-level emigration is associated with a lower likelihood of pro-environmental action; the instrumental variable analysis supports the causal nature of this relationship. This finding supports the conjecture that emigration contributes to greater consumerism at home and therefore reduces pro-environmental behaviour. At the same time, controlling for the intensity of local-level emigration, a higher proportion of women in the local migrant population is associated with a greater likelihood of pro-environmental action. As women are generally more likely to undertake pro-environmental behaviour as well as transfer new norms and practices across borders, this finding supports the hypothesis that migration contributes to a cross-border transmission of pro-environmental norms and practices.