Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

As Planet Warms, Poor Nations Face Economic Chill

Date:
March 20, 2009
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
A rising tide is said to lift all boats. Rising global temperatures, however, may lead to increased disparities between rich and poor countries, according to a recent economic analysis of the impact of climate change on growth.

A rising tide is said to lift all boats. Rising global temperatures, however, may lead to increased disparities between rich and poor countries, according to a recent MIT economic analysis of the impact of climate change on growth.

After examining worldwide climate and economic data from 1950 to 2003, Benjamin A. Olken, associate professor in the Department of Economics, concludes that a 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature in a given year reduces economic growth by an average of 1.1 percentage points in the world's poor countries but has no measurable effect in rich countries.

Olken says his research suggests higher temperatures will be disproportionately bad for the economic growth of poor countries compared to rich countries.

The precise reasons whyhigher temperatures lower economic output are likely to be complex, but Olken'sresults suggest the importance of temperature's impact on agriculturaloutput. His data also provide evidence for a relationship betweentemperature and industrial output, investment, research productivity andpolitical stability.

"The potential impacts of an increase in temperature on poor countries are much larger than existing estimates have suggested," Olken says. "Although historical estimates don't necessarily predict the future, our results suggest that one should be particularly attentive to the potential impact of climate change on poorer countries."

Olken's analysis is contained in "Climate Shocks and Economic Growth: Evidence from the Last Half Century," a paper co-authored by MIT economics graduate student Melissa Dell and Benjamin F. Jones, associate management professor at Northwestern University. The paper is currently under review for publication. Olken, who has been researching issues of growth and temperature for about two years, presented some of the findings at a recent conference of the American Economic Association.

Growing hot-cold divide

It has long been observed that hotter countries, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Latin America, tend to be poorer than cooler countries in North America and Europe; the main exceptions are hot, rich Middle East countries with oil reserves and cold, poor Communist or former Communist states like North Korea and Mongolia. What contemporary scholars have debated, however, is whether climate has a significant effect on a country's economy today or whether it is institutions and policies that now solely drive prosperity.

To conduct their research, Olken and his co-authors used existing data sets of economic growth and productivity --everything from gross domestic product to the rate of publication of scientific papers --and combined them with country-by-country temperature and precipitation data from 1950 to 2003.

Olken and his co-authors conclude that rising temperatures do substantially reduce economic output and growth rates in both agricultural and industrial sectors, but only in countries that are already poor. Higher temperatures also reduce investment and innovation but, again, only in poor nations.

Rising temperatures may also have political consequences, the authors found. A one-degree rise in temperature in poor countries raises the likelihood of a so-called irregular leader transition (i.e., a coup) by 3.9 percentage points.

Olken acknowledges that the long-term impact of temperature change might be different from the short-term effect since countries may adapt to a particular climate over time. But his research found no such adaptation over a 10-year time horizon.

Should the future effects mirror recent history, world policy makers should be prepared for a widening gap between rich and poor countries as the globe continues to warm, he says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "As Planet Warms, Poor Nations Face Economic Chill." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090316173421.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2009, March 20). As Planet Warms, Poor Nations Face Economic Chill. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090316173421.htm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "As Planet Warms, Poor Nations Face Economic Chill." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090316173421.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cellphone Unlocking Bill Clears U.S. House, Heads to Obama

Cellphone Unlocking Bill Clears U.S. House, Heads to Obama

Reuters - US Online Video (July 27, 2014) Congress gets rid of pesky law that made it illegal to "unlock" mobile phones without permission, giving consumers the option to use the same phone on a competitor's wireless network. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins