The Long-Lived Effects of Historic Climate on the Wealth of Nations

35 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2009

See all articles by John C. Bluedorn

John C. Bluedorn

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Research Department

Akos Valentinyi

University of Manchester; CERS-HAS; CEPR

Michael Vlassopoulos

University of Southampton; IZA -- Institute for the Study of Labor

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 17, 2009


We investigate the long-run consequences of historic, climatic temperatures (1730-2000) for the modern cross-country income distribution. Using a newly constructed dataset of climatic temperatures stretching over three centuries (18th, 19th, and 20th), we estimate a robust and significant time-varying, non-monotonic effect of climatic temperature upon current incomes for a cross-section of 167 countries. We find a large, positive effect of 18th century climatic temperature and an even larger, negative effect of 19th century climatic temperature upon current incomes. When historic, climatic temperature is introduced, the effect of 20th century climatic temperature on current income is either weakly positive or insignificant. Our findings are robust to various sub-samples, additional geographic controls, and alternative income measures. The negative relationship between current, climatic temperature and current income that is commonly estimated appears to reflect the long-run effect of climatic variations in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Keywords: climate, temperature, economic performance, geography, history

JEL Classification: N50, O11, O40, O50, O57

Suggested Citation

Bluedorn, John C. and Valentinyi, Akos and Vlassopoulos, Michael, The Long-Lived Effects of Historic Climate on the Wealth of Nations (November 17, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

John C. Bluedorn (Contact Author)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Research Department ( email )

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Akos Valentinyi

University of Manchester ( email )

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Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

CERS-HAS ( email )

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United Kingdom

Michael Vlassopoulos

University of Southampton ( email )

University Rd.
Southampton SO17 1BJ, Hampshire SO17 1LP
United Kingdom

IZA -- Institute for the Study of Labor ( email )


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