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The distributional impact of climate change on rich and poor countries

  • ROBERT MENDELSOHN (a1), ARIEL DINAR (a2) and LARRY WILLIAMS (a3)
Abstract

This paper examines the impact of climate change on rich and poor countries across the world. We measure two indices of the relative impact of climate across countries, impact per capita, and impact per GDP. These measures sum market impacts across the climate-sensitive economic sectors of each country. Both indices reveal that climate change will have serious distributional impact across countries, grouped by income per capita. We predict that poor countries will suffer the bulk of the damages from climate change. Although adaptation, wealth, and technology may influence distributional consequences across countries, we argue that the primary reason that poor countries are so vulnerable is their location. Countries in the low latitudes start with very high temperatures. Further warming pushes these countries ever further away from optimal temperatures for climate-sensitive economic sectors.

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Corresponding author
Correspondence: Email: robert.mendelsohn@yale.edu
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We want to thank the reviewers and editor for their very helpful comments. The views in this paper are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the World Bank.
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Environment and Development Economics
  • ISSN: 1355-770X
  • EISSN: 1469-4395
  • URL: /core/journals/environment-and-development-economics
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