Student Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 5-3-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

B.B.A. with honors

Honors Designation


Program of Study

Environmental Science



First Advisor

Stephen Gosnell

Second Advisor

Chester Zarnoch

Third Advisor

Bryan Jones


International migration, the act of leaving one’s country to permanently settle in another country, is driven by many socio economic/political factors, such as lack of economic opportunity, access to education, governmental corruption, and violence. These factors have proven to be the reason that many citizens within the Latin American-Caribbean region either choose or are forced to relocate internationally. While these factors are important to consider independently; these issues are often exacerbated by changes in the natural environment. The objective of my paper is to highlight the importance of considering changes in the natural environment. In doing so, I hope to shed light on the need for researchers and policymakers addressing international migration from the Latin American-Caribbean region to consider the impact of the natural environment. For this research we completed a regression analysis analyzing the bivariate relationship between net migration, non-environmental indicators, and environmental indicators within 42 countries in the Latin American-Caribbean region over a 25-year period: 1990-2015. The non-environmental indicators that we focused on include unemployment rate, GDP per capita, intentional homicides, educational attainment, human development index, and employment rate in agriculture for both males and females. The environmental indicators that we focused on include arable land, PM2.5 air pollution exposure, renewable internal freshwater resources, carbon dioxide emissions, natural resource depletion, and forest area. We found that there was no significant relationship between the aforementioned indicators and net migration. This is an important finding and the explanation for these results is complex. For instance, while the prediction could be made that high levels of carbon emissions would correlate to environmental degradation at the site of emission, it is possible that these emissions have more of an impact 4 globally. In actuality, in our current economic system which relies heavily on production that releases high levels of carbon, higher carbon emissions may be more strongly correlated with economic prosperity which would make it appear as though increased carbon emissions lead to lower rates of negative net migration. It is also important to highlight that the variables chosen to analyze for this study may not be the correct variables, and further research should be conducted to assess which variables are the most useful for identifying correlations between causal factors of migration and migration flows.


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.