Climate Change and Political Mobilization: Theory and Evidence from India

83 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2022 Last revised: 5 Dec 2023

See all articles by Carlos Felipe Balcazar

Carlos Felipe Balcazar

New York University - Department of Politics

Amanda Kennard

Stanford University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: September 1, 2023

Abstract

What are the implications of climate change for political mobilization? Economic, physiological, and social pressures brought about by climate change can provide new opportunities for citizens to learn about: the loyalty of political leaders; the capacity of the state; and their ability to rely on members of their own community. Successful mobilization is more likely in the wake of climate change. We develop a model of collective action in the presence of climate shocks and show that uncertainty about causal attribution can lead citizens to rationally under-estimate environmental impacts, attributing observed outcomes instead to features of their political environment. We provide evidence for our claims using geocoded weather data and a unique household-level panel survey from India. Unusually high temperatures reduce trust in leaders and security forces while increasing intra-community cooperation. High temperatures also increase voter turnout, rates of anti-incumbent voting, and the frequency of non-violent anti-government protest.

Keywords: climate change, cooperation, conflict, voter mobilization, public goods

JEL Classification: Q54, D72, D74, H41

Suggested Citation

Balcazar, Carlos Felipe and Kennard, Amanda, Climate Change and Political Mobilization: Theory and Evidence from India (September 1, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4206967 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4206967

Carlos Felipe Balcazar (Contact Author)

New York University - Department of Politics ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Amanda Kennard

Stanford University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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