Climatic Change

, Volume 140, Issue 2, pp 135–147 | Cite as

Climate change may speed democratic turnover

Article

Abstract

The electoral fate of incumbent politicians depends heavily upon voters’ well-being. Might climate change – by amplifying threats to human well-being – cause incumbent democratic politicians and parties to lose office more frequently? Here I conduct the first-ever investigation of the relationship between temperature, electoral returns, and future climate change. Using data from over 1.5 billion votes in over 4,800 electoral contests held in 19 countries between 1925 and 2011, coupled with meteorological data, I show that increases in annual temperatures above 21 °C (70 °F) markedly decrease officeholders’ vote share. I combine these empirical estimates with an ensemble of climate models to project the impact of climate change on the fate of future officeholders. Resulting forecasts indicate that by 2099 climate change may reduce average incumbent party vote share across all nations in the sample, with the most acute worsening occurring in poorer countries. If realized, these predictions indicate that climate change could amplify future rates of democratic turnover by causing incumbent parties and their politicians to lose office with increasing frequency.

Keywords

Elections Democracy Political instability Climate change impacts 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (Grant Nos. DGE0707423, 0903551, TG-SES130013, and 1424091). I thank D. Alex Hughes and the San Diego Supercomputer Center for their assistance and J. Burney, J. Fowler, C. Gibson, B. LeVeck, A. Lo, D. Victor, and members of the UCSD Human Nature Group and Comparative Politics Workshop for their helpful comments.

Supplementary material

10584_2016_1833_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.1 mb)
(PDF 1.05 MB)

References

  1. Abney F, Hill L (1966) Natural disasters as a political variable: the effect of a hurricane on an urban election. Am Polit Sci Rev 60(4):974–981CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Albouy D, Graf W, Kellogg R, Wolff H (2016) Climate amenities, climate change, and american quality of life. J Assoc Environ Res Econ 3(1):205–246Google Scholar
  3. Arceneaux K, Stein RM (2006) Who is held responsible when disaster strikes? The attribution of responsibility for a natural disaster in an urban election. Journal of Urban Affairs 28(1):43–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Auffhammer M, Hsiang SM, Schlenker W, Sobel A (2013) Using weather data and climate model output in economic analyses of climate change. Rev Environ Econ Policy. ret016Google Scholar
  5. Barnhart J (1925) Rainfall and the populist party in Nebraska. Am Polit Sci Rev 19:527–540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barry JM (2007) Rising tide: The great Mississippi ood of 1927 and how it changed America. Simon and SchusterGoogle Scholar
  7. Bester CA, Conley TG, Hansen CB (2011) Inference with dependent data using cluster covariance estimators. J Econ 165(2):137–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bratton M (2008) Vote buying and violence in Nigerian election campaigns. Elect Stud 27(4):621–632CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brügger A, Dessai S, Devine-Wright P, Morton TA (2015) Psychological responses to the proximity of climate change. Nat Clim ChangGoogle Scholar
  10. Burke M, Hsiang S, Miguel E, et al (2015) Global non-linear effect of temperature on economic production. Nature 527(7577):235–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cameron AC, Gelbach JB, Miller DL (2011) Robust inference with multiway clustering. J Bus Econ Stat 29(2)Google Scholar
  12. Cole S, Healy A, Werker E (2012) Do voters demand responsive governments? Evidence from Indian disaster relief. J Dev Econ 97(2):167–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Collier P, Vicente PC (2012) Violence, bribery, and fraud: The political economy of elections in Sub-Saharan Africa. Public Choice 153(1-2):117–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Connolly M (2013) Some like it mild and not too wet: The influence of weather on subjective well-being. J Happiness Stud 14(2):457–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dell M, Jones B, Olken B (2012) Temperature shocks and economic growth: Evidence from the last half century. Am Econ J Macroecon 4(3):66–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dell M, Jones BF, Olken BA (2014) What do we learn from the weather? The new climate-economy literature. J Econ Lit 52(3):740–798CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dercon S, Gutiérrez-Romero R (2012) Triggers and characteristics of the 2007 Kenyan electoral violence. World Dev 40(4):731–744CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Deryugina T (2014) Does the environment still matter? Daily temperature and income in the United States (Rapport technique). National Bureau of Economic ResearchGoogle Scholar
  19. Doherty TJ, Clayton S (2011) The psychological impacts of global climate change. Am Psychol 66(4):265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Duch RM, Stevenson R (2010) The global economy, competency, and the economic vote. J Polit 72(01):105–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Duch RM, Stevenson RT (2008) The economic vote: How political and economic institutions condition election results. Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  22. Egan PJ, Mullin M (2012) Turning personal experience into political attitudes: the effect of local weather on Americans perceptions about global warming. J Polit 1(1):1–14Google Scholar
  23. Erikson R (1989) Economic conditions and the presidential vote. Am Polit Sci Rev 83:567–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fair R (1978) The effect of economic events on votes for president. Rev Econ Stat 60(2):159–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fiorina MP (1981) Retrospective voting in American national elections. Yale University PressGoogle Scholar
  26. Fischer E, Knutti R (2015) Anthropogenic contribution to global occurrence of heavy-precipitation and high-temperature extremes. Nat Clim ChangGoogle Scholar
  27. Fowler JH (2006) Elections and markets: The effect of partisanship, policy risk, and electoral margins on the economy. J Polit 68(1):89–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fraga B, Hersh E (2010) Voting costs and voter turnout in competitive elections. Quarterly Journal of Political Science 5(4):339–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Friedl MA, Sulla-Menashe D, Tan B, Schneider A, Ramankutty N, Sibley A, et al (2010) MODIS Collection 5 global land cover: Algorithm refinements and characterization of new datasets. Remote Sens Environ 114(1):168–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gasper J, Reeves A (2011) Make it rain? Retrospection and the attentive electorate in the context of natural disasters. Am J Polit Sci 55(2):340–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gifford R (2011) The dragons of inaction: Psychological barriers that limit climate change mitigation and adaptation. Am Psychol 66(4):290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Graff Zivin JS, Neidell M (2014) Temperature and the allocation of time: Implications for climate change. J Labor Econ 32(1):1–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hansen J, Sato M, Ruedy R (2012) Perception of climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci 109(37):E2415—E2423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hausman J (2001) Mismeasured variables in econometric analysis: Problems from the right and problems from the left. J Econ Perspect:57–67Google Scholar
  35. Healy A, Malhotra N (2009) Myopic voters and natural disaster policy. Am Polit Sci Rev 103(3):387–406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Healy A, Malhotra N (2010) Random events, economic losses, and retrospective voting: Implications for democratic competence. Quarterly Journal of Political Science 5(2):193–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Healy A, Malhotra N (2013) Retrospective voting reconsidered. Annual Review of Political Science 16:285–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Healy A, Malhotra N, Mo CH (2010) Irrelevant events affect voters’ evaluations of government performance. Proc Natl Acad Sci 107(29):12804–12809CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hsiang SM (2010) Temperatures and cyclones strongly associated with economic production in the Carribean and Central America. Proc Natl Acad Sci 107 (35):15367–15372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hsiang SM, Burke M, Miguel E (2013) Quantifying the in uence of climate on human con ict. Science 341(6151):1235367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Keller MC, Fredrickson BL, Ybarra O, Côté S, Johnson K, Mikels J, et al (2005) A warm heart and a clear head the contingent effects of weather on mood and cognition. Psychol Sci 16(9):724–731CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Klimstra TA, Frijns T, Keijsers L, Denissen JJ, Raaijmakers QA, Aken MAV, et al (2011) Come rain or come shine: Individual differences in how weather affects mood. Emotion 11(6):1495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kollman K, Hicken A, Caramani D, Backer D (2015) Constituency-level elections archive (CLEA). Ann Arbor. University of Michigan Center for Political Studies, MIGoogle Scholar
  44. Kramer GH (1971) Short-term uctuations in US voting behavior: 1896-1964. Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics at Yale UniversityGoogle Scholar
  45. Krosnick JA, Holbrook AL, Lowe L, Visser PS (2006) The origins and consequences of democratic citizens’ policy agendas: A study of popular concern about global warming. Clim Chang 77(1-2):7–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lang C (2014) Do weather uctuations cause people to seek information about climate change Clim Chang 125(3-4):291–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lewis-Beck M (2006) Does economics still matter? Econometrics and the vote. J Polit 68(1):208–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lewis-Beck M, Stegmaier M (2000) Economic determinants of electoral outcomes. Pol Sci 3(1):183Google Scholar
  49. Lewis-Beck M, Stegmaier M (2008) The economic vote in transitional democracies. Journal of Elections Public Opinion and Parties 18(3):303–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Linden SVD (2015) The social-psychological determinants of climate change risk perceptions: Towards a comprehensive model. J Environ Psychol 41:112–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Maddison D, Rehdanz K (2011) The impact of climate on life satisfaction. Ecol Econ 70(12):2437–2445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Malhotra N, Kuo AG (2008) Attributing blame: The public’s response to Hurricane Katrina. J Polit 70(01):120–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Min S, Zhang X, Zwiers F, Hegerl G (2011) Human contribution to more-intense precipitation extremes. Nature 470(7334):378–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mitchell TD, Jones PD (2005) An improved method of constructing a database of monthly climate observations and associated high-resolution grids. Int J Climatol 25 (6):693–712CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Morton JF (2007) The impact of climate change on smallholder and subsistence agriculture. Proc Natl Acad Sci 104(50):19680–19685CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Mundfrom DJ, Perrett JJ, Schaffer J, Piccone A, Roozeboom M (2006) Bonferroni adjustments in tests for regression coefficients. Multiple Linear Regression Viewpoints 32(1):1–6Google Scholar
  57. Myers TA, Maibach EW, Roser-Renouf C, Akerlof K, Leiserowitz AA (2012) The relationship between personal experience and belief in the reality of global warming. Nat Clim Chang 3(4):343–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Nordhaus WD (1991) To slow or not to slow: The economics of the greenhouse effect. Econ J 101(407):920–937CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Obradovich N, Guenther SM (2016) Collective responsibility amplifies mitigation behaviors. Clim Chang 137(1):307–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Przeworski A (2000) Democracy and development: Political institutions and well-being in the world, vol 3. Cambridge University Press, pp 1950–1990Google Scholar
  61. Rahmstorf S, Coumou D (2011) Increase of extreme events in a warming world. Proc Natl Acad Sci 108(44):17905–17909CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Riahi K, Rao S, Krey V, Cho C, Chirkov V, Fischer G, et al (2011) RCP 8.5 – a scenario of comparatively high greenhouse gas emissions. Clim Chang 109 (1-2):33–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Roser-Renouf C, Maibach EW, Leiserowitz A, Zhao X (2014) The genesis of climate change activism: from key beliefs to political action. Clim Chang 125(2):163–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Seneviratne SI, Donat MG, Mueller B, Alexander LV (2014) No pause in the increase of hot temperature extremes. Nat Clim Chang 4(3):161–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Stern N (2006) Review on the economics of climate change. London HM TreasuryGoogle Scholar
  66. Straus S (2011) It’s sheer horror here: Patterns of violence during the first four months of Côte d’Ivoire’s post-electoral crisis. African Affairs, adr024Google Scholar
  67. Taylor KE, Stouffer RJ, Meehl GA (2012) An overview of CMIP5 and the experiment design. Bull Amer Meteor Soc 93(4):485–498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tufte E (1978) Political control of the economy. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  69. Vaaler PM, Schrage BN, Block SA (2006) Elections, opportunism, partisanship and sovereign ratings in developing countries. Rev Dev Econ 10(1):154–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Walker Jr H, Hansen P (1946) Rural local government: Local government and rainfall: The problem of local government in the northern great plains. Am Polit Sci Rev 40:1113–1123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Weitzman ML (2009) On modeling and interpreting the economics of catastrophic climate change. Rev Econ Stat 91(1):1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wilkin S, Haller B, Norpoth H (1997) From Argentina to Zambia: a world-wide test of economic voting. Elect Stud 16(3):301–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wooldridge JM (2010) Econometric analysis of cross section and panel data. MIT pressGoogle Scholar
  74. Zaval L, Keenan EA, Johnson EJ, Weber EU (2014) How warm days increase belief in global warming. Nat Clim Chang 4:143–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Kennedy School of GovernmentHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations