Working Paper BETA #2020-20

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Title : Cliometrics of Climate Change: A Natural Experiment on the Little Ice Age

Author(s) : Olivier DAMETTE, Claude DIEBOLT, Stephane GOUTTE, Umberto TRIACCA

Abstract : This paper presents the findings of climate change impact on a widespread human crisis due to a natural occurrence, focusing on the so-called Little Ice Age period. The study is based on new non-linear econometrics tools. First, we reassessed the existence of a significant cooling period using outliers and structural break tests and a nonlinear Markov Switching with Levy process (MS Levy) methodology. We found evidence of the existence of such a period between 1560-1660 and 1675-1700. In addition, we showed that NAO teleconnection was probably one of the causes of this climate change. We then performed nonlinear econometrics and causality tests to reassess the links between climate shock and macroeconomic indicators. While the causal relationship between temperature and agricultural output (yields, production, price) is strongly robust, the association between climate and GDP identified by the MS Levy model does not reveal a clear causality link. Although the MS Levy approach is not relevant in this case, the causality tests indicate that social disturbance might also have been triggered by climate change, confirming the view of Parker (2013). These findings should inform current public policies, especially with regard to the strong capacity of climate to disrupt social and economic stability.

Key-words : Little Ice Age, climate change, non-linear econometrics, Markov Switching Levy, Causality, Economic cycles, Social crisis

JEL Classification : C22, C53, E32, E33, F00, Q00