RESEARCH TO POLICY: ECONOMICS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
The economic cost of increased temperatures
“Higher temperatures lead to substantially lower economic growth in poor countries,” says MIT economist Ben Olken.
Even temporary rises in local temperatures significantly damage long-term economic growth in the world’s developing nations, according to a new study co-authored by an MIT economist.
Looking at weather data over the last half-century, the study finds that every 1-degree-Celsius increase in a poor country, over the course of a given year, reduces its economic growth by about 1.3 percentage points. However, this only applies to the world’s developing nations; wealthier countries do not appear to be affected by the variations in temperature.
“Higher temperatures lead to substantially lower economic growth in poor countries,” says Ben Olken, a professor of economics at MIT, who helped conduct the research. And while it’s relatively straightforward to see how droughts and hot weather might hurt agriculture, the study indicates that hot spells have much wider economic effects.
Illustration by Christine Daniloff courtesy of MIT News