Jonas Vestby

Senior Researcher


Work phone: 22 54 77 89

Twitter: @JonasVestby


Tuesday, 6 Apr 2021

In a new study published in Nature Communications, PRIO researchers use a machine-learning analysis framework to identify leading predictors of contemporary asylum migration to the European Union. The study finds little evidence that climatic shocks or deteriorating economic conditions predict near-future arrivals of asylum seekers in Europe, contrasting commonly held notions of economy- and climate-driven asylum migrants. Instead, indicators capturing levels of political violence and violations of physical integrity rights in countries of origin are important predictors of asylum migration flows, suggesting that migrants are continuing to use the asylum system as intended – i.e., to seek international protection from a well-founded fear of persecution – despite the fact that most applicants ultimately are rejected refugee status. The article is a product of the ERC-funded CLIMSEC project and is published as open access.

Schutte, Sebastian; Jonas Vestby, Jørgen Carling & Halvard Buhaug (2021) Climatic conditions are weak predictors of asylum migration, Nature Communications 12: 2067.

​​​I am interested in how we can learn from quantitative data in social sciences, especially data with a strong spatio-temporal component. Recurrent themes are modeling social phenomena, causal inference, forecasting and data quality.

I am currently working on projects that study the relationships between climate, climate change, agricultural performance and various conflict outcomes. My Phd, which I defended in March 2018 was entitled "Climate, development, and conflict: Learning from the past and mapping uncertainties of the future". The main conclusion in the dissertation was that causal effects of climate variability on conflict is dependent on context and conflict type. 

Particularly, conflict types where organized actors challenging capable state militaries tend not to be affected. Rather, effects can be observed when violence is used for material gains in areas of limited statehood. When thinking about future effects of climate change on conflict, it is just as important to think about how the context will change as how climate exposure will change. The Phd also identify several methodological issues related to causal inference, and attempt to solve some of these.

Languages spoken:

Norwegian and English.


2018: Phd, Political Science, University of Oslo.

2010-2012: MA, Political Science, University of Oslo.

2004-2007: BA, International Politics and Philosophy. NTNU and Univ. of Oslo.

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