University of Oulu

Kolstad, I., Bezu, S., Lujala, P., Mahmud, M., & Wiig, A. (2023). Does Changing the Narrative Improve Host Community Attitudes Toward Climate Migrants? Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh. International Migration Review, 57(1), 68–94.

Does changing the narrative improve host-community attitudes toward climate migrants? : experimental evidence from Bangladesh

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Author: Kolstad, Ivar1,2; Bezu, Sosina2; Lujala, Päivi3,2;
Organizations: 1Department of Accounting, Auditing and Law, Norwegian School of Economics
2Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway
3Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, Finland
4Asian Development Bank, Philippines
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: SAGE Publications, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-12-02


A number of studies suggest that prevailing narratives about the situation of the poor and vulnerable affect how they are viewed and treated. Theoretically, a potentially powerful way to make host communities more welcoming of climate migrants is to shift the blame for their situation away from the migrants themselves and onto other forces or agents. We present results from a randomized field experiment conducted among long-term residents of host communities in the Satkhira district of Bangladesh that exposed three treatment groups to narratives that shift responsibility for climate migration toward natural forces, Western countries, and local authorities, respectively. Despite statistical power to detect reasonably small effects, we find no positive effects of these narratives on host-community attitudes toward climate migrants. On the contrary, the local authorities treatment had a borderline negative effect on host-community attitudes. Our results suggest caution in attempting to influence attitudes toward migrants through attribution of blame to outside forces or third parties. Such narrative interventions may shift responsibility away from not just migrants but also the treated host-community residents and increase social identification between host-community members relative to outsiders.

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Series: International migration review
ISSN: 0197-9183
ISSN-E: 1747-7379
ISSN-L: 0197-9183
Volume: 57
Issue: 1
Pages: 68 - 94
DOI: 10.1177/01979183221116883
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 517 Political science
511 Economics
519 Social and economic geography
Copyright information: Kolstad, Ivar; Bezu, Sosina; Lujala, Päivi; Mahmud, Minhaj; Wiig, Arne, Does changing the narrative improve host-community attitudes toward climate migrants? : experimental evidence from Bangladesh, International Migration Review, 57(1), 68–94. Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). DOI: 10.1177/01979183221116883.