Abstract

https://ssrn.com/abstract=2904317
 


 



Rainfall Patterns and Human Settlement in Tropical Africa and Asia Compared. Did African Farmers Face Greater Insecurity?


Ewout Frankema


Wageningen UR

Kostadis J. Papaioannou


London School of Economics and Political Science

January 2017

CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11795

Abstract:     
We explore a new dataset of annual and monthly district-level rainfall patterns to assess the longstanding idea that climatological conditions were more conducive to the development of dense rural populations in Asia than in Africa. We test whether there existed significant cross-regional differences in both the frequency and intensity of rainfall shocks (i.e. annual mean deviations exceeding one standard deviation). Our results confirm that rainfall shocks in tropical Africa were both more frequent and more severe. Second, we test the separate effects of precipitation levels and variability on district-level population densities from colonial population censuses. We hypothesize that higher mean levels of precipitation facilitate agricultural intensification and human settlement, while unpredictability of rainfall has the opposite effect. Controlling for average rainfall levels, we find a strong negative effect of rainfall variation on population densities. This study thus lends further support to a wide literature arguing that the ecological conditions of agricultural intensification were more challenging in the African than in the Asian tropics.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: Africa, agriculture, Asia, Climate, Settlement

JEL Classification: N55, N57, O13, O44


Date posted: January 23, 2017  

Suggested Citation

Frankema, Ewout and Papaioannou, Kostadis J., Rainfall Patterns and Human Settlement in Tropical Africa and Asia Compared. Did African Farmers Face Greater Insecurity? (January 2017). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11795. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2904317

Contact Information

Ewout Frankema (Contact Author)
Wageningen UR ( email )
Hollandseweg 1
Wageningen, 6706KN
Netherlands
Kostadis Jason Papaioannou
London School of Economics and Political Science ( email )
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
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