Climate and Conflict

Posted: 7 Aug 2015

See all articles by Marshall Burke

Marshall Burke

University of California, Berkeley; Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

Solomon Hsiang

University of California, Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research

Edward Miguel

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2015

Abstract

We review the emerging literature on climate and conflict. We consider multiple types of human conflict, including both interpersonal conflict, such as assault and murder, and intergroup conflict, including riots and civil war. We discuss key methodological issues in estimating causal relationships and largely focus on natural experiments that exploit variation in climate over time. Using a hierarchical meta-analysis that allows us to both estimate the mean effect and quantify the degree of variability across 55 studies, we find that deviations from moderate temperatures and precipitation patterns systematically increase conflict risk. Contemporaneous temperature has the largest average impact, with each 1σ increase in temperature increasing interpersonal conflict by 2.4% and intergroup conflict by 11.3%. We conclude by highlighting research priorities, including a better understanding of the mechanisms linking climate to conflict, societies’ ability to adapt to climatic changes, and the likely impacts of future global warming.

Suggested Citation

Burke, Marshall and Hsiang, Solomon and Miguel, Edward, Climate and Conflict (August 2015). Annual Review of Economics, Vol. 7, pp. 577-617, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2640071 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-economics-080614-115430

Marshall Burke (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Solomon Hsiang

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

2607 Hearst Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720-7320
United States

HOME PAGE: http://gspp.berkeley.edu/directories/faculty/solomon-hsiang

National Bureau of Economic Research ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Edward Miguel

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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