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Climate variability, economic growth, and civil conflict

Author

Listed:
  • Vally Koubi

    () (Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS) & Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED), ETH Zürich, University of Bern & Oeschger Institute for Climate Change Research)

  • Thomas Bernauer

    (Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS) & Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED), ETH Zürich)

  • Anna Kalbhenn

    (European Central Bank (ECB))

  • Gabriele Spilker

    (Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS) & Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED), ETH Zürich)

Abstract

Despite many claims by high-ranking policymakers and some scientists that climate change breeds violent conflict, the existing empirical literature has so far not been able to identify a systematic, causal relationship of this kind. This may either reflect de facto absence of such a relationship, or it may be the consequence of theoretical and methodological limitations of existing work. In this article we revisit the climate–conflict hypothesis along two lines. First, we concentrate on indirect effects of climatic conditions on conflict, whereas most of the existing literature focuses on direct effects. Specifically, we examine the causal pathway linking climatic conditions to economic growth and to armed conflict, and argue that the growth–conflict part of this pathway is contingent on the political system. Second, we employ a measure of climatic variability that has advantages over those used in the existing literature because it can presumably take into account the adaptation of production to persistent climatic changes. For the empirical analysis we use a global dataset for 1980–2004 and design the testing strategy tightly in line with our theory. Our empirical analysis does not produce evidence for the claim that climate variability affects economic growth. However, we find some, albeit weak, support for the hypothesis that non-democratic countries are more likely to experience civil conflict when economic conditions deteriorate.

Suggested Citation

  • Vally Koubi & Thomas Bernauer & Anna Kalbhenn & Gabriele Spilker, 2012. "Climate variability, economic growth, and civil conflict," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 49(1), pages 113-127, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:49:y:2012:i:1:p:113-127
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Lopez-Uribe, Maria del Pilar & Castells-Quintana, David & McDermott, Thomas K. J., 2017. "Geography, institutions and development: a review ofthe long-run impacts of climate change," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 65147, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Ore Koren & Benjamin E. Bagozzi, 2016. "From global to local, food insecurity is associated with contemporary armed conflicts," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 8(5), pages 999-1010, October.
    3. Gerdis Wischnath & Halvard Buhaug, 2014. "On climate variability and civil war in Asia," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 122(4), pages 709-721, February.
    4. Bakaki Zorzeta, 2016. "Fossil Fuel Rents: Who Initiates International Crises?," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 22(2), pages 173-190, April.
    5. Giorgos Kallis & Christos Zografos, 2014. "Hydro-climatic change, conflict and security," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 123(1), pages 69-82, March.
    6. Zhukov, Yuri M., 2016. "Trading hard hats for combat helmets: The economics of rebellion in eastern Ukraine," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 1-15.
    7. Achim Ahrens, 2015. "Civil conflicts in Africa: Climate, economic shocks, nighttime lights and spill-over effects," SEEC Discussion Papers 1501, Spatial Economics and Econometrics Centre, Heriot Watt University.
    8. Exenberger Andreas & Pondorfer Andreas, 2013. "Climate Change and the Risk of Mass Violence: Africa in the 21st Century," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 19(3), pages 381-392, December.
    9. Drago Bergholt & Päivi Lujala, 2012. "Climate-related natural disasters, economic growth, and armed civil conflict," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 49(1), pages 147-162, January.
    10. Chris Jeffords & Alexi Thompson, 2016. "An empirical analysis of fatal crimes against environmental and land activists," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 36(2), pages 827-842.
    11. David Castells-Quintana & Maria del Pilar Lopez-Uribe & Tom McDermott, 2015. "Climate change and the geographical and institutional drivers of economic development," GRI Working Papers 198, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    12. Gartzke Erik & Böhmelt Tobias, 2015. "Climate and Conflict: Whence the Weather?," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 21(4), pages 445-451, December.
    13. Ole Theisen & Nils Gleditsch & Halvard Buhaug, 2013. "Is climate change a driver of armed conflict?," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 117(3), pages 613-625, April.
    14. Buhaug Halvard, 2016. "Climate Change and Conflict: Taking Stock," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 22(4), pages 331-338, December.
    15. H. Buhaug & J. Nordkvelle & T. Bernauer & T. Böhmelt & M. Brzoska & J. Busby & A. Ciccone & H. Fjelde & E. Gartzke & N. Gleditsch & J. Goldstone & H. Hegre & H. Holtermann & V. Koubi & J. Link & P. Li, 2014. "One effect to rule them all? A comment on climate and conflict," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 127(3), pages 391-397, December.

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