Climate Change

The effects of weather and changes in the global climate on agricultural output is well documented. Recent research by CEEP’s faculty and students shows that other sectors in both developing and developed countries are also very much influenced by weather, including overall GDP, crime, conflict, and various educational outcomes such as student test scores.

In an article in Nature,former SIPA Ph.D. student Solomon Hsiang and co-authors show how temperatures around the globe affect GDP growth. The authors find a remarkably robust relationship for various time periods that is consistent across rich and poor countries: Moderate temperatures are ideal, while temperatures that are too hot or too cold slow economic growth. The authors use the estimated relationship to simulate future GDP growth under a warming climate, which is predicted to increase global inequalities (figure on the left). Each line presents the growth trajectory of a country: grey lines to the right are baseline simulations with no climate change, while red lines to the left incorporate predicted climate change.

GDP as a function of temperature

This work has multifaceted implications for societies at large. For example, Ph.D. student Missirian and CEEP researcher Schlenker published an article in Science that demonstrates how asylum applications to the European Union are influenced by weather fluctuation in the origin country. If average temperatures deviate from a moderate optimum around 20C (68F), asylum applications to the European Union increase. The right graph shows this response function in brown, while the average number of asylum applications and average temperature in each country are shown in green.

Temperature-asylum relationship