Climate Change and Civil Unrest: Evidence from the El Niño Southern Oscillation

29 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2015 Last revised: 5 Mar 2018

Daniel L. Hicks

University of Oklahoma - Department of Economics

Beatriz Maldonado

College of Charleston - Department of Economics; College of Charleston - International and Intercultural Studies Program

Date Written: September 28, 2015

Abstract

A growing body of research connects short-run deviations in weather with violence. Less well understood are the impacts of medium and long-run climate fluctuations. We follow the approach of Hsiang, Meng, and Cane (2011, Science) in using the existing climactic forces of El Niño and La Niña to analyze the consequences of climate change. We show that El Niño events elevate, while La Niña periods reduce subsequent civil unrest, and that these changes occur only among countries whose weather is susceptible to these climate cycles. This connection is pronounced in Latin America, and where strong democracies are present, they appear less vulnerable to climate induced unrest. Our findings suggest a critical need to further develop political and social infrastructure to cope with these evolving challenges.

Keywords: O13, Q54, H1

JEL Classification: Climate Change, Civil Unrest, El Niño, Latin America

Suggested Citation

Hicks, Daniel L. and Maldonado, Beatriz, Climate Change and Civil Unrest: Evidence from the El Niño Southern Oscillation (September 28, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2666703 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2666703

Daniel Lee Hicks

University of Oklahoma - Department of Economics ( email )

729 Elm Avenue
Norman, OK 73019-2103
United States

Beatriz Maldonado (Contact Author)

College of Charleston - Department of Economics ( email )

66 George St.
Charleston, SC South Carolina 29424
United States

College of Charleston - International and Intercultural Studies Program ( email )

66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
United States

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