Exploring the Influence of Environmental Hardship on Population Mobility in the Drylands of Argentina: The Case of the Department of Jáchal

Susana Adamo, University of Texas at Austin

This paper explores the role that environment hardship plays in migration decision-making, in a context where different forms of population mobility have traditionally operated as the response to the combination of deteriorating living conditions, economic vulnerability and land degradation. The data come mainly from in-depth interviews to small farmers’ households, fielded during 2001 and analyzed using interpretative content analysis. Preliminary results indicate that links between migration and desertification are elusive. Environmental hardship was hardly mentioned as a reason for moving, except in cases of drought or flooding, suggesting that the relationship is more transparent if environmental problems are acute. However, since work-related reasons are the modal ones, the structure of opportunities of the local labor market emerges as mediating factor: environmental change and degradation would trigger population mobility to the extent that they affect labor demand in agriculture, reducing it in a scenario of severe scarcity of off-farm jobs.

Presented in Session 159: Land Use and Migration