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Does Hotter Temperature Increase Poverty and Inequality? Global Evidence from Subnational Data Analysis
World Bank
2023.06.02
Despite a vast literature documenting the harmful effects of climate change on various socio-economic outcomes, little evidence exists on the global impacts of hotter temperature on poverty and inequality. Analysis of a new global panel dataset of subnational poverty in 134 countries finds that a one-degree Celsius increase in temperature leads to a 9.1 percent increase in poverty, using the US$1.90 daily poverty threshold. A similar increase in temperature causes a 1.4 percent increase in the Gini inequality index. The paper also finds negative effects of colder temperature on poverty and inequality. Yet, while poorer countries―particularly those in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa―are more affected by climate change, household adaptation could have mitigated some adverse effects in the long run. The findings provide relevant and timely inputs for the global fight against climate change as well as the current policy debate on the responsibilities of richer countries versus poorer countries.