Winter is Coming: The Long-Run Effects of Climate Change on Conflict, 1400-1900
We investigate the long-run effects of cooling on conflict. We construct a geo-referenced and digitized database of conflicts in Europe, North Africa, and the Near East from 1400-1900, which we merge with historical temperature data. We show that cooling is associated with increased conflict. When we allow the effects of cooling over a fifty-year period to depend on the extent of cooling during the preceding period, the effect of cooling on conflict is larger in locations that experienced earlier cooling. We interpret this as evidence that the adverse effects of climate change intensify with its duration.
We thank Isaiah Andrews, Tim Armstrong, Susan Athey, Steve Berry, Marshall Burke, Melissa Dell, Michael Greenstone,Solomon Hsiang, Benjamin Jones, DanKeniston, Kyle Meng, Stelios Michalopoulos, Ted Miguel, Nicholas Ryan, Joseph Shapiro, Chris Udry, and EricWeese for their insights; the participants at the Zurich Applied Economics Seminar, University of Lausanne Applied Seminar, University of Geneva Seminar, LSE/UCL Development Seminar, Stanford Development Seminar, University of California at Berkeley Development Seminar, Duke University Development Seminar, NBER Political Economy, the Toulouse DevelopmentWorkshop and the Yale Political Economy and Development Conference for useful comments; Erin Fletcher, Nicola Fontana, Anna Hovde, Eva Ng, Joshua Schabla, Brittney Stafford-Sullivan and Jaya Wen for excellent research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.