Yan Tan

Associate Professor Yan Tan

Associate Professor/Reader

School of Social Sciences

Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

My research lies at the interface of population and environmental studies and focuses on population mobility. The work has focused on China, Australia, and other parts of the Asia-Pacific region.

Recently, I conducted my ARC QEII Fellowship project on Climate Change and Migration in China (2011–2015, DP110105522). The empirical work to identify its determinants has occasioned a rethinking of migration as a multi-staged decision-making process shaped by complex interactions among a constellation of factors. One of the key findings is that it is complex dynamic interactions among climate change (including climatic extremes and variations) and other factors (demographic, social, economic, political, environmental) that exacerbate vulnerability and inequalities and shape migration behaviour and intention, rather than climate or environmental change per se.

I have led the International Migration–Diaspora–Development project, funded by the ARC under its Discovery Program (2017–2022, DP170101726). Our research has provided empirical evidence of the evolving role of transnationalism in demography. The study has deepened the conceptualis¬ation of the relationship between international migration, multi-scalar and multi-dimensional linkages of migrants (diasporas), and development outcomes in both origin and destination countries. We have constructed some innovative methodologies for quantifying the diaspora populations and analysing migration's economic and social consequences for countries of origin and destination.

I have a strong interest in addressing the issues surrounding carbon-emission mitigation and other environmental and ecological stresses – especially land-use change, deteriorating quality and supply of water, and food insecurity – in the context of traumatic urban expansion and rapid growth of the urban population in China.

These studies have laid a solid foundation for further research that brings migration transition, urbanisation, and environmental challenges together to tease out the cause–effect relationship between new-style urbanisation and evolving mobility transition, especially urban settlement, migration between two or more cities, moving within the same city, or return migration. These are some key issues of my current ARC Discovery Project on China's Changing Internal Migration (2023–2026, DP230103060).

I welcome inquiries from PhD and Masters candidates interested in: Demographic change and migration (internal, international); Climate change, population mobility, and adaptation; Transnationalism, diaspora, and development; and Relationship between population growth, urbanisation, land-use change, carbon emissions, and degradation of ecosystem services.

My current projects include:

  1. China’s Changing Internal Migration: Patterns, Causes, Policy Implications (Discovery Projects) awarded by AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH COUNCIL (2023–2026, DP230103060)

China’s massive internal migration is no longer simply rural–urban and circular but highly diversified. The project aims to unravel that transition: its patterns, causes, and effects. Using 2020 census data and major longitudinal datasets, a China variant of Zelinsky’s classic mobility transition theory will be developed and deployed to identify underlying mechanisms. Among expected outcomes are powerful methods for assessing spatio-temporal migration patterns and causes, applicable to many economies especially in the Asia–Pacific. Benefits should include a new evidence base for migration and related urban–rural policy in China; and for Australia, policy inputs to improve prosperity through better relations with our biggest trading partner.

  1. Transnationalism and Diaspora: Enhancing Demography’s Contribution to Migration and Development (Discovery Projects) awarded by AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH COUNCIL (2017–2022, DP170101726)

This study rethinks demographic concepts of population and migration to incorporate elements such as diaspora, circular migration, and transnational linkages. It shows how the use of traditional demographic data with integrated quantitative and qualitative research can yield important insights into diaspora, in particular, the diaspora–migration-development nexus. Four country case studies (China, Indonesia, Singapore and Australia) will be undertaken to increase understanding of the characteristics of diasporas, their multi-scalar and multi-dimensional linkages, and their potential for enhancing development in origin countries. This study will generate policy advice for governments and other stakeholders about how to maximise the development potential of diaspora and facilitate policy discussions within Australia and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

Areas of current research:

  • Demography/Population Studies:
    • Internal migration and mobility transition
    • International migration, transnationalism and diaspora
    • Climate change, migration, and adaptation;
    • Population and health
    • Environment- and development-induced displacement and resettlement
  • Environmental Studies/Human Geography:
    • Climate (ecological) vulnerability assessment
    • Relationship between migration, population growth, urbanisation, and degradation of ecosystem services
    • Urbanisation and land-use change
    • Industrial and household carbon emissions
  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2017 - ongoing Associate Professor University of Adelaide
    2016 - 2016 Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2011 - 2015 ARC QEII Fellow University of Adelaide
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2013 Fellowship Australia-China Joint-Action Exchange Program 2013 Fellowship Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) Australia -
    2012 Fellowship Australia-China Joint-Action Exchange Program 2012 Fellowship Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) Australia -
    2011 Fellowship ARC Queen Elizabeth II (QE II) Fellowship Australian Research Council Australia $610,380
    2009 Fellowship Flinders University Research Fellowship Flinders University Australia -
    2006 Award Flinders University Establishment Award Flinders University Australia -
    2004 Award The 2004 John Lewis Silver Medal Royal Geographical Society of South Australia Australia -
    2002 Award Award for an Outstanding Presentation Institute of Australian Geographers Australia -
    2000 Scholarship Australian Commonwealth International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) Australian Government Australia -
    1990 Distinction Outstanding Scientific Advancement Prize Association of Science and Technology of Sichuan Province & Chengdu Municipal Government, China China -
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2004 University of Adelaide Australia Ph.D. (Human Geography / Population Studies)
    1991 Southwest China University China M.Sc. (Economic Geography)
    1985 Southwest China University China B. Sc. (Geography)

Competitive Research Funding

International Competitive Schemes

Date Project/ No. Investigators Funding Body Amount
2013–15 Internal migration and social security in China Tan Y, Hugo G, Watson A Ford Foundation, U.S. $130,000
2008-09 Study of climate change and migration in Asia and the Pacific Hugo G, Findlay C, Bedford R, Tan Y, Bardsle, D, Williams M, Brook B Asian Development Bank (ADB) $200,000 USD

National Competitive Schemes

Date Project/ No. Investigators Funding Body Amount
2023–26 China’s changing internal migration: patterns, causes, policy implications – ARC Discovery Project 

Tan YCheng Z, Zhu Y, Shen J

Australian Research Council (ARC) $355,221
2017–22 Transnationalism and diaspora: Enhancing demography’s contribution to migration and development – ARC Discovery Project Tan Y, Rosser A, Guo F, Yeoh B Australian Research Council (ARC) $544,500
2014–17 Vulnerable communities (including human health) research network Bi P, Pisaniello D, Hansen A, Williams S, Hanson-Easey S, Weinstein P, Tan Y, Nursey-Bray M, etc. National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) $400,000
2011–15 Climate change and migration in China: Theoretical, empirical and policy dimensions – ARC Discovery/Fellowship Project Hugo G, Tan Y (ARC QEII Fellow), Yang G, Wang N Australian Research Council (ARC) $710,000
2013 Group Mission: Multidisciplinary projects related to sustainable futures Findlay C, Oak M, Anderson K, Gibson R, Hugo G, Watson A, Tan Y, Bardsley D The Australia-China Science and Research Fund (ACSRF) $50,000
2011–13 Impact of climate change on disadvantaged groups: Issues and interventions Hugo G, Tan Y, Spoehr J National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) $246,795
2011–13 Extreme heat and climate change – adaptation in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities Bi P, Saniotis A, Benson J, Tan Y, Nitschke M, Wilson L, Han G-S, Smyth V, Hansen A National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) $248,229
2004–06 A well-skilled future: Tailoring VET to the emerging labour market Richardson S, Teese R, Martin B, Tan Y National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) $750,000

Other External Competitive Grants

Date Project/ No. Investigators Funding Body Amount
2013 Internal migration and social security in China Tan Y Australia-China Joint-Action Program: Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA)


2012 Climate change and migration in China: Institutional dimensions

Hugo G, Tan Y

Australia-China Joint-Action exchange program: the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA)


2010 Review of skilled and business migration in South Australia Tan Y, Richardson S Department of Trade and Economic Development, State Government of South Australia (DTED)


2009–10 Evaluation of the better access to psychiatrists, psychologists and GP’s through the Medicare Benefits Schedule Initiative King D, Tan Y, Wainer J, Smith L, Fitzpatrick D, Sun L, Owada K Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA), Australian Government


2009–10 Research into long-term physical implications of net overseas migration

Richardson S, Sobels J, Tan Y, Turner G, Maude A, Beer A, Wei Z

Australian Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC)


2009–10 Climate change and human displacement in west China Tan Y Flinders University



Evaluation of Australian’s Working Holiday Maker program

Tan Y, Richardson S Australian Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC)


2008 Vision 2020 Project: Labour forecasts Molloy S, Tan Y Minerals Council of Australia (MCA)


2007 University employment review to 2016 Tan Y, Richardson S Unisuper, Australia


2006 The labour force outlook in the minerals resources sector 2005 to 2015

Lowry D, Tan Y

Minerals Council of Australia (MCA)


2006 Reasons why persons with VET qualifications are employed in lower skilled occupations and industries Richardson S, Tan Y Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal


2006 Research on displacement and resettlement of the Three Gorges Project in China

Tan Y

Flinders University


2005 Labour force projections for the greater metropolitan area of NSW to 2031 Tan Y, Richardson S Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources, NSW, Australia


Course Title Course Level / Code
Migration and Development Level 2, GEOG 2161
Global Population and Health Level 2, GEOG 2138
Global International Migration Level 3, GEOG 3026
Environmental Policy and Management Level 3, GEOG 3030
Geography Matters Level 3, GEOG 3024
Environmental Policy & Management Internship Level 3, GEOG 3025
Honours Common Course Honours, GEOG 4001
Honours Thesis Honours, GEOG 4003
Introduction to Urbanisation Masters, GEOG 7015
Master’s Dissertations: Environmental Policy & Management; Planning Masters, GEOG 7017, 7024A-B, 7026A-B, 7027A-B
Social Science Techniques Level 1, GEOG 1005
Social Science Techniques Level 2, GEOG 2132


  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2024 Principal Supervisor Exploring the impacts of ecological disasters Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Obumneke Bob Muoneke
    2023 Principal Supervisor Exploring the Gender Dynamics in Leveraging Migration Experiences for Household Consumption, Livelihoods, and Local Economies in Lombok: A Comparative Analysis of Migrants Employed in Malaysia, Middle Eastern Countries, and More Developed Nations. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Muhammad Busyairi
    2022 Principal Supervisor Rural land consolidation and migration in the processes of urban-rural integration and rural revitalization in China Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Zhongqi Feng
    2022 Principal Supervisor Planning for carbon reduction: how to support households to make greener food choices in Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Virginie Anne Ducruc
    2021 Principal Supervisor Urban slums in Dhaka : Community-based approaches to adapting to climate effects Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr A B M Enamol Hassan
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2018 - 2022 Principal Supervisor Fertility decisions of women in the context of extreme climate events: A study in two areas hit by cyclones and floods in Bangladesh Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Khandaker Jafor Ahmed
    2018 - 2022 Principal Supervisor The Entrepreneurial Practices of Chinese Business Migrants in Australia, 2000 - 2019 Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Chao Shi
    2017 - 2020 Co-Supervisor Exploration and Evaluation of the Alternative Wildlife Management Options for the Loliondo Game Controlled Area in Tanzania: Multi-criteria Analysis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Gileard Sifueli Minja
    2017 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Sustaining Off-Reserve Forests in Ghana: A Game-Theoretic Approach Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Emmanuel Otutei
    2017 - 2021 Principal Supervisor OVERSEAS REMITTANCES AND RURAL HOME TOWN INVESTING IN TWO PHILIPPINE MUNICIPALITIES Towards an understanding of the migration-and-local development nexus Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Jeremaiah Manuel Opiniano
    2017 - 2021 Principal Supervisor Policy, Occupation and Transnationalism: New Zealanders Living in Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Madeleine Rose Morey
    2017 - 2021 Co-Supervisor Egyptian Agriculture in Transition: Farmer Perceptions of Risks and Adaptation Opportunities in a Changing Climate Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mrs Ayah Roushdy Abdulaty Omar
    2014 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Migration and Food Security in Urban China: A Case Study in Megacity Shanghai from the Perspective of Food Consumption Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Lingling Liao
    2012 - 2020 Co-Supervisor Resettlement Migration: A Case Study in Dulan Tibetan and Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai Province, Western China Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Zhengliang Zhao
    2011 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Exploring the Relationship between Climatic Variability, Inequality and Migration from a Class Perspective: Evidence from Minqin County, Western China Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Xuchun Liu
  • Board Memberships

    Date Role Board name Institution name Country
    2022 - ongoing Board Member Social Demography and Climate Change (specialty section of Frontiers in Human Dynamics) Frontiers Switzerland
    2022 - ongoing Board Member Frontiers in Climate - Climate Mobility (Associate Editor) Frontiers Swaziland
    2022 - ongoing Board Member Frontiers in Climate - Climate Mobility (Associate Editor) Frontiers Switzerland
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2018 - ongoing Member Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) University of Adelaide Australia
    2014 - 2017 Chair International Steering Committee, Population-Environment Research Network (PERN) - United States
  • Editorial Boards

    Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country
    2020 - ongoing Board Member Atmosphere MDPI Switzerland
    2019 - ongoing Board Member Journal of Geographical Research Bilingual Publishing Co Singapore
    2017 - 2020 Board Member Journal of Mountain Science Chinese Academy of Sciences China
    2016 - ongoing Member Austin Environmental Sciences - United States
  • Position: Associate Professor/Reader
  • Phone: 83133976
  • Email: yan.tan@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 83133772
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Napier, floor G
  • Org Unit: School of Social Sciences

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