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Has climate change driven urbanization in Africa?

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  • Henderson, J. Vernon
  • Storeygard, Adam
  • Deichmann, Uwe

Abstract

This paper documents strong but differentiated links between climate and urbanization in large panels of districts and cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, which has dried substantially in the past fifty years. The key dimension of heterogeneity is whether cities are likely to have manufacturing for export outside their regions, as opposed to being exclusively market towns providing local services to agricultural hinterlands. In regions where cities are likely to be manufacturing centers (25% of our sample), drier conditions increase urbanization and total urban incomes. There, urban migration provides an “escape” from negative agricultural moisture shocks. However, in the remaining market towns (75% of our sample), cities just service agriculture. Reduced farm incomes from negative shocks reduce demand for urban services and derived demand for urban labor. There, drying has little impact on urbanization or total urban incomes. Lack of structural transformation in Africa inhibits a better response to climate change.

Suggested Citation

  • Henderson, J. Vernon & Storeygard, Adam & Deichmann, Uwe, 2017. "Has climate change driven urbanization in Africa?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 60-82.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:124:y:2017:i:c:p:60-82
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2016.09.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Michel Beine & Lionel Jeusette, 2018. "A Meta-Analysis of the Literature on Climate Change and Migration," CREA Discussion Paper Series 18-05, Center for Research in Economic Analysis, University of Luxembourg.
    2. Gollin, Douglas & Kirchberger, Martina & Lagakos, David, 2017. "In Search of a Spatial Equilibrium in the Developing World," CEPR Discussion Papers 12114, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Henderson, J. Vernon & Kriticos, Sebastian, 2017. "The development of the African system of cities," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86349, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Neeraj Baruah & J. Vernon Henderson & Cong Peng, 2017. "Colonial Legacies: Shaping African Cities," SERC Discussion Papers 0226, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    5. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:6:p:1741-:d:149046 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Yalew, Amsalu W. & Hirte, Georg & Lotze-Campen, Hermann & Tscharaktschiew, Stefan, 2017. "Economic effects of climate change in developing countries: Economy-wide and regional analysis for Ethiopia," CEPIE Working Papers 10/17, Technische Universität Dresden, Center of Public and International Economics (CEPIE).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    O10; O55; Q54; R12; Africa; Urbanization; Climate change;

    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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