Climate-related natural disasters, economic growth, and armed civil conflict
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Global warming is expected to make the climate warmer, wetter, and wilder. It is predicted that such climate change will increase the severity and frequency of climate-related disasters like flash floods, surges, cyclones and severe storms. This article uses econometric methods to study the consequences of climate-induced natural disasters on economic growth, and how these disasters are linked to the onset of armed civil conflict either directly or via their impact on economic growth. The results show that climate-related natural disasters have a negative effect on growth and that the impact is considerable. The analysis of conflict onset shows that climate-related natural disasters do not increase the risk of armed conflict. This is also true when we instrument the change in GDP growth by climatic disasters. The result is robust to inclusion of country and time fixed effects, different estimation techniques, various operationalization of the disasters measure as well as for conflict incidence and war onset. These findings have two major implications: if climate change increases the frequency or make weather-related natural disasters more severe, it is an economic concern for countries susceptible to these types of hazards. However, our results suggest—based on historical data—that more frequent and severe climate-related disasters will not lead to more armed conflicts through their effects on GDP growth.
This is the authors’ final, accepted and refereed manuscript to the article