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Adaptation to climate change: historical evidence from the Indian monsoon

  • Vis Taraz (a1)

Estimating the potential impacts of climate change requires understanding the ability of agents to adapt to changes in their climate. This paper uses panel data from India spanning from 1956 to 1999 to investigate the ability of farmers to adapt. To identify adaptation, the author exploits persistent, multidecadal monsoon regimes during which droughts or floods are more common. These regimes generate medium-run variation in average rainfall, and there is spatial variation in the timing of the regimes. Using a fixed-effects strategy, she tests whether farmers have adapted to the medium-run rainfall variation induced by the monsoon regimes. The author finds evidence that farmers adjust their irrigation investments and their crop portfolios in response to the medium-run rainfall variation. However, adaptation only recovers a small fraction of the profits farmers have lost due to adverse climate variation.

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Environment and Development Economics
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