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The economic impact of the little ice age

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  • Morgan Kelly
  • Cormac Ó Gráda

Abstract

We investigate by how much the Little Ice Age reduced the harvests on which pre-industrial Europeans relied for survival. We find that weather strongly affected crop yields, but can find little evidence that western Europe experienced long swings or structural breaks in climate. Instead, annual summer temperature reconstructions between the fourteenth and twentieth centuries behave as almost independent draws from a distribution with a constant mean but time varying volatility; while winter temperatures behave similarly until the late nineteenth century when they rise markedly, consistent with anthropogenic global warming. Our results suggest that the existing consensus about a Little Ice Age in western Europe stems from a Slutsky effect, where the standard climatological practice of smoothing data prior to analysis induces spurious cyclicality in uncorrelated data.

Suggested Citation

  • Morgan Kelly & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2010. "The economic impact of the little ice age," Working Papers 201014, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201014
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/2649
    File Function: First version, 2010
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Was There No Little Ice Age?
      by David Stern in Stochastic Trend on 2010-06-10 05:55:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Morgan Kelly & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2014. "Living standards and mortality since the middle ages," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 67(2), pages 358-381, May.
    2. De Vijlder, Nicolas, 2012. "A macroeconomic analysis of the land market in the count of Flanders and the duchy of Brabant. (fifteenth and sixteenth century)," MPRA Paper 39283, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Europe--Climate--History; Crops and climate--Europe--History; Crops and climate--Economic aspects--Europe;

    JEL classification:

    • N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative

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