Agent-based modeling of environment-migration linkages : A review

Jule Thober*, Nina Schwarz, Kathleen Hermans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Environmental change can lead to human migration and vice versa. Agent-based models (ABMs) are valuable tools to study these linkages because they can represent individual migration decisions of human actors. Indeed, there is an increasing, yet small, number of ABMs that consider the natural environment in rural migration processes. Therefore, we reviewed 15 ABMs of environment-migration linkages in rural contexts to synthesize the current state of the art. The reviewed ABMs are mostly applied in tropical contexts, serve a wide range of purposes, and cover diverse scales and types of environmental factors, migration processes, and social-ecological feedbacks. We identified potential for future model development with respect to the (1) complexity of environmental influence factors, (2) representation of relevant migration flows, and (3) type of social-ecological couplings. We found that existing models tend to not include fully integrated feedbacks and provide recommendations for the further development of ABMs to contribute to an understanding of the environment-migration-nexus in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41
Number of pages12
JournalEcology and society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Agent-based modeling
  • Environmental change
  • Fully integrated feedbacks
  • Migration
  • Review
  • Social-ecological system


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