Climate-related Natural Disasters, Economic Growth, and Armed Civil Conflict

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Bergholt, Drago; & Lujala, Päivi (2012) Climate-related Natural Disasters, Economic Growth, and Armed Civil Conflict , Journal of Peace Research 49(1): 147–162.

Global warming is expected to make the climate warmer, wetter, and wilder. It is predicted that such climate change will increase the severity and frequency of climate-related disasters like flash floods, surges, cyclones, and severe storms. This article uses econometric methods to study the consequences of climate-induced natural disasters on economic growth, and how these disasters are linked to the onset of armed civil conflict either directly or via their impact on economic growth. The results show that climate-related natural disasters have a negative effect on growth and that the impact is considerable. The analysis of conflict onset shows that climate-related natural disasters do not increase the risk of armed conflict. This is also true when we instrument the change in GDP growth by climatic disasters. The result is robust to inclusion of country and time fixed effects, different estimation techniques, and various operationalization of the disasters measure, as well as for conflict incidence and war onset. These findings have two major implications: if climate change increases the frequency or makes weather-related natural disasters more severe, it is an economic concern for countries susceptible to these types of hazards. However, our results suggest – based on historical data – that more frequent and severe climate-related disasters will not lead to more armed conflicts through their effects on GDP growth.

http://jpr.sagepub.com/content/49/1/147

Authors

Drago Bergholt

Drago Bergholt

MA Student

Päivi Lujala

Päivi Lujala

Post-doctoral Fellow in Economics at NTNU