Labor Adaptation to Climate Variability in Eastern Africa

32 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2016

See all articles by Xiaoya Dou

Xiaoya Dou

University of Maryland

Clark Gray

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Valerie Mueller

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Glenn David Sheriff

National Center for Environmental Economics, US EPA

Date Written: June 17, 2016

Abstract

As countries design climate change adaptation policies, it is important to understand how workers alter behavior in response to changes in temperature. Nonetheless, the impact of temperature on labor markets is poorly documented, especially in Africa. We address this gap by analyzing panel surveys of labor choices by sector, contractual arrangement, and migration status in four East African countries. Merging survey information with high-resolution climate data, we assess how workers shift employment in response to temperature anomalies. Results suggest important distinctions between rural and urban areas. In urban areas, only agricultural self-employment and migration are responsive to temperature, with participation in both activities decreasing at high extremes. Urban out-migration is used as a tool to increase incomes in “good” years rather than an adaptation mechanism during bad years. In contrast, out-migration appears to be a means of adapting to high temperatures in rural areas, especially among households with relatively little agricultural land. The combined impact of these forces suggests that a 2 standard deviation increase in temperature results in a 7 percent increase in urban unemployment and no significant impact on rural unemployment.

Keywords: EAST AFRICA; AFRICA SOUTH OF SAHARA; AFRICA; migration; labor; climate change; economic development; natural resources management; rural areas; urban areas; time allocation; climate adaptation

JEL Classification: J22, O13, O15, Q54, Q56

Suggested Citation

Dou, Xiaoya and Gray, Clark and Mueller, Valerie and Sheriff, Glenn David, Labor Adaptation to Climate Variability in Eastern Africa (June 17, 2016). IFPRI Discussion Paper 1537, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2801249

Xiaoya Dou (Contact Author)

University of Maryland ( email )

0108 Symons Hall
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-5551
United States

Clark Gray

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill ( email )

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27514
United States

Valerie Mueller

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Glenn David Sheriff

National Center for Environmental Economics, US EPA ( email )

Washington, DC 20460
United States

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