The Impact of Changing Rainfall Variability on Resource-Dependent Wealth Dynamics

7 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2015 Last revised: 21 Jul 2015

See all articles by Christopher B. Barrett

Christopher B. Barrett

Cornell University - Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management

Paulo Santos

Cornell University

Date Written: September 1, 2014

Abstract

Climate change is widely expected to lead to changing rainfall variability and thus to changing frequency of drought. In places where drought is a major driver of agroecosystem dynamics, as in the extensive livestock grazing systems that dominate Africa's sprawling arid and semi-arid lands, changing rainfall variability can fundamentally alter human wealth dynamics. We use subjective livestock herd growth expectations data elicited from Boran pastoralists in southern Ethiopia to generate estimates of herd dynamics conditional on rainfall state. The climate state-conditional estimates permit simulation of herd dynamics under different rainfall patterns. The multiple herd size equilibria observed in multiple pastoralist household data sets from the region appear sensitive to climate regimes. Reduced rainfall variability that significantly reduces drought frequency would eliminate, in expectation, the poverty trap equilibrium that presently exists only for households with herd sizes beneath a threshold level. Conversely, if the drought frequency more than doubles relative to recent patterns, then the whole system becomes a poverty trap, in expectation.

Keywords: Climate change, Drought, Ethiopia, Livestock, Pastoralism, Poverty traps

Suggested Citation

Barrett, Christopher B. and Santos, Paulo, The Impact of Changing Rainfall Variability on Resource-Dependent Wealth Dynamics (September 1, 2014). Ecological Economics 105 (2014) 48–54, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2628713

Christopher B. Barrett (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management ( email )

315 Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-7801
United States
607-255-4489 (Phone)
607-255-9984 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://aem.cornell.edu/faculty_sites/cbb2/

Paulo Santos

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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