Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


As planet warms, poor nations face economic chill

Climate change may widen gap between rich and poor, study finds

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 why higher temperatures lower economic output are likely to be complex, but Olken's results suggest the importance of temperature's impact on agricultural output. His data also provide evidence for a relationship between temperature and industrial output, investment, research productivity and political 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.

Elizabeth Thomson | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>