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Do migrants degrade coastal environments? Migration, natural resource extraction and poverty in North Sulawesi, Indonesia

Susan L. Cassels, University of Washington

Recent literature on migration and the environment has identified key mediating variables such as how migrants extract resources from the environment for their livelihoods, the rate and efficiency of extraction, and the social and economic context within which their extraction occurs. This paper tests these theories in a new ecological setting using data from coastal fishing villages in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. We do not find as many differences between migrant and non-migrant families regarding destructive fishing behaviour, technology and investment as might have been expected from earlier theories. Instead, the context and timing of migrant assimilation seems to be more important in explaining apparent associations of migration and environmental impacts than simply migrants themselves. This finding fits well with recent literature in the field of international migration and immigrant incorporation.

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Presented in Session 185: Migration and the environment