Climate Change and Political (In)Stability
64 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2022
Date Written: September 1, 2022
As climate change accelerates, a looming question is what effects warming will have on the stability and organization of political systems. We argue that extreme weather associated with climate change can reshape societal relations by altering citizen perceptions of their political environment. We develop a theory of climate change and political mobilization which emphasizes the mediating role of citizens’ beliefs about their leaders, the state, and one another. We provide causal evidence for our claims using panel data at the household level for India (2005-2012). We find an increase in temperature of 3◦ Celsius reduces trust in political leaders and domestic security forces by around 2 percentage points (PP) while increasing cooperation by 3PP. We document further causal evidence for the underlying mechanisms by examining the impacts of climate on agricultural incomes, rates of violent and non-violent crime, and intra-community conflict. Finally we show that climate shocks impact real world political mobilization: temperature extremes lead to higher voter turnout and lower probability of incumbent re-election in state legislatures.
Keywords: climate change, cooperation, conflict, voter mobilization, public goods
JEL Classification: Q54, D72, D74, H41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation