Winter is Coming: The Long-Run Effects of Climate Change on Conflict, 1400-1900

66 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2017

See all articles by Murat Iyigun

Murat Iyigun

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics; Harvard University - Center for International Development (CID); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Nathan Nunn

Harvard University - Department of Economics

Nancy Qian

Yale University - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2017

Abstract

This paper investigates the long-run effects of climate change on conflict by examining cooling from 1400-1900 CE, a period that includes most of the Little Ice Age. We construct a geo-referenced and digitized database of conflicts in Europe, North Africa, and the Near East from 1400-1900, which we merge with historical temperature data. We first show that during this time, cooling is associated with increased conflict. Then, turning to the dynamics of cooling, we allow the effects of cooling over a fifty-year period to depend on the extent of cooling during the preceding fifty-year period. We find that the effect of cooling on conflict is significantly larger if the same location experienced cooling during the preceding period. We interpret this as evidence that the adverse effect of climate change intensifies with its duration.

Keywords: environment, development, political economy

JEL Classification: D74, Q34, P16

Suggested Citation

Iyigun, Murat F. and Nunn, Nathan and Qian, Nancy, Winter is Coming: The Long-Run Effects of Climate Change on Conflict, 1400-1900 (January 2017). IZA Discussion Paper No. 10475, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2903097

Murat F. Iyigun (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics ( email )

Campus Box 256
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
303-492-6653 (Phone)
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Harvard University - Center for International Development (CID) ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
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Nathan Nunn

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nancy Qian

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

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