Climate Change and Political (In)Stability

64 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2022

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, 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

Balcazar, Carlos Felipe and Kennard, Amanda, Climate Change and Political (In)Stability (September 1, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

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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