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The poverty impacts of climate change : a review of the evidence


  • Skoufias, Emmanuel
  • Rabassa, Mariano
  • Olivieri, Sergio


Climate change is believed to represent a serious challenge to poverty reduction efforts around the globe. This paper conducts an up-to-date review of three main strands of the literature analyzing the poverty impacts of climate change : (i) economy-wide growth models incorporating climate change impacts to work out consistent scenarios for how climate change might affect the path of poverty over the next decades; (ii) studies focusing on the poverty impacts of climate change in the agricultural sector; and (iii) studies exploring how past climate variability impacts poverty. The analysis finds that the majority of the estimates of the poverty impacts tend to ignore the effect of aggregate economic growth on poverty and household welfare. The empirical evidence available to date suggests that climate change will slow the pace of global poverty reduction, but the expected poverty impact will be relatively modest and far from reversing the major decline in poverty that is expected to occur over the next 40 years as a result of continued economic growth. The studies focusing on the sector-specific channels of impacts of climate change suggest that the estimated impacts of climate change on agricultural yields are generally a poor predictor of the poverty impacts of climate change at the national level due to heterogeneity in the ability of households to adapt. It also appears that the impacts of climate change are generally regressive, that is, they fall more heavily on the poor than the rich.

Suggested Citation

  • Skoufias, Emmanuel & Rabassa, Mariano & Olivieri, Sergio, 2011. "The poverty impacts of climate change : a review of the evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5622, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5622

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    Cited by:

    1. Hallegatte, Stephane & Bangalore, Mook & Bonzanigo, Laura & Fay, Marianne & Narloch, Ulf & Rozenberg, Julie & Vogt-Schilb, Adrien, 2014. "Climate change and poverty -- an analytical framework," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7126, The World Bank.
    2. Grabrucker, Katharina & Grimm, Michael, 2018. "Is there a rainbow after the rain? How do agricultural shocks affect non-farm enterprises? Evidence from Thailand," TVSEP Working Papers wp-011, Leibniz Universitaet Hannover, Institute of Development and Agricultural Economics, Project TVSEP.
    3. Agustin L. Arcenas, 2018. "Establishing the Link Between Poverty and Changes in Climatic Conditions in the Philippines," UP School of Economics Discussion Papers 201801, University of the Philippines School of Economics.
    4. Matthew Lockwood, 2013. "What Can Climate-Adaptation Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa Learn from Research on Governance and Politics?," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 31(6), pages 647-676, November.
    5. repec:eee:rensus:v:75:y:2017:i:c:p:393-401 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. S. Nazrul Islam & John Winkel, 2017. "Climate Change and Social Inequality," Working Papers 152, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.
    7. repec:taf:tcpoxx:v:16:y:2016:i:6:p:752-767 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Sandrine Mathy & Odile Blanchard, 2016. "Proposal for a poverty-adaptation-mitigation window within the Green Climate Fund," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(6), pages 752-767, August.
    9. Zaveri, Esha & Fisher-Vanden, Karen & Wrenn, Douglas H. & Nicholas, Robert E., 2014. "Adapting to Monsoon Variability in India: the Case for Irrigation," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170583, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    10. Weldesilassie, Alebel Bayrau & Gebrehiwot, Berihu Assefa & Weldeyes, Frew Bekele & G, Adiam Hagos, 2015. "Characteristics of Climate Change Risk, Vulnerability and Adaptation in Cotton and Sugarcane Producing Regions of Ethiopia," MPRA Paper 69689, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Rural Poverty Reduction; Climate Change Economics; Science of Climate Change; Climate Change Mitigation and Green House Gases; Regional Economic Development;

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