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Global Non-Linear Effect of Temperature on Economic Production
September 15, 2015Washington, DC

Edward Miguel is the Oxfam Professor of Environmental and Resource Economics and Faculty Director of the Center for Effective Global Action at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 2000. Ted's main research focus is African economic development, including work on the economic causes and consequences of violence; the impact of ethnic divisions on local collective action; interactions between health, education, environment, and productivity for the poor; and methods for transparency social science research. He has conducted field work in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and India. Ted is a Faculty Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, has served as Associate Editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics and Journal of Development Economics, is a recipient of the 2005 Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, and winner of the 2005 Kenneth J. Arrow Prize awarded annually by the International Health Economics Association for the Best Paper in Health Economics. He co-founded the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) in 2007 and serves as Faculty Director. He has served as the Co-organizer of the Working Group in African Political Economy (WGAPE) since 2002. Ted is also the co-founder and Faculty Director of the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS).  Ted has written two books, Africa's Turn? (MIT Press 2009), and, with Ray Fisman, Economic Gangsters: Corruption, Violence and the Poverty of Nations (Princeton University Press 2008). Miguel's other writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Forbes, and the New York Times.

He earned S.B. degrees in both Economics and Mathematics from MIT, received a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow, and has been a visiting professor at Princeton University and Stanford University.

Growing evidence demonstrates that climatic conditions can have a profound impact on the functioning of modern human societies, but effects on economic activity appear inconsistent. Here we unify seemingly contradictory results in the existing literature by accounting for nonlinearity at the macroeconomic scale. We show that overall economic productivity is nonlinear in temperature for all countries, with productivity peaking at an annual average temperature of 13C and declining strongly at higher temperatures. The relationship is globally generalizable, unchanged since 1960, and apparent for agricultural and non-agricultural activity in both rich and poor countries. If future adaptation mimics past adaptation, unmitigated warming will reshape the global economy by reducing average global incomes roughly 25% by 2100 and widening global income inequality, relative to scenarios without climate change.

The Development Economics Vice Presidency (DEC) launched its lecture series in April 2005 to bring distinguished academics to the Bank to present and discuss new knowledge on development. The purpose of the Lecture Series is to introduce ideas on cutting edge research, challenge and contribute to the Bank's intellectual climate, and reexamine current development theories and practices. The Lectures revisit issues of long-standing concern and explore emerging issues that promise to be central to future development discourse. The Lecture Series reflects DEC's commitment to intellectual leadership and openness in embracing future challenges to reduce poverty.

The DEC Lecture Series is chaired by Kaushik Basu, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, and includes a presentation and floor discussion. 

Lecture Details
  • Date: September 15, 2015
  • Time: 12:30–1:30
  • Venue: MC13-121