Scoping study of human migration and displacement within India

Start and End Dates: 

March 2023-March 2024


Introduction to the Project:

India is a country on the move and the 2011 Census identifies about 34% of the population as migrant although this  number masks seasonal and circular migration. In parallel, an urban transition is underway with estimates that by 2035, 43% of India is expected to be residing in cities. Linked to this urban transition are certain realities: female labour force participation is weak (25% in 2020-21 compared to 57.5% for men), agrarian distress and changing aspirations away from farming is driving migration, ~90% of the economy is informal, and there is a climate crisis underway. 


Collectively, this begs the question, how does India’s urban transition accommodate mobility–across locations and across socio-economic hierarchies? What opportunities and learnings exist in dealing with the polycrises of today (climate change, inequality, informality) to lift the most vulnerable migrants? How can India adapt in a manner that is inclusive, retains dignity, meets aspirations, and builds climate resilience? 


The project is a scoping study to examine whether climate risks are amplified in cities for migrant workers, how this hazard exposure intersects with socio-economic vulnerability, and what risk management pathways are households/individuals taking. To do this, we will map climate risk in Kochi and Bangalore and develop a place-based understanding of how risk and adaptive capacity are differentiated and dynamic. We will also track households to examine what enables upward mobility in the context of climate change. 



  • Datasets combining hazard maps and migrant life histories to understand climate migration
  • The development of a research agenda and proposition around whether migration can be a means of climate-adaptive upward mobility?