Skip to content

Temperature variability as a driver of poverty in low- and middle-income countries

Climate change distributes its negative impacts on societies unequally. Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are disproportionately affected by climate change, which threatens to undo global progress in poverty reduction.

Temperature variability has been shown to reduce macroeconomic growth and to negatively affect household wealth. Climate models predict that LMICs are located in ‘hotspot’ areas that will experience the largest increases in temperature variability. Understanding the effects of an increasingly variable climate on social and economic outcomes is thus of key importance.

This paper combines remote sensing temperature data from the Reanalysis Fifth Generation (ERA5) global climate dataset for 2018 and micro-estimates of relative household wealth at a 2.4km spatial resolution predicted by machine learning (ML) algorithms from Chi et al. (2022).

We find a robust negative effect of increases in day-to-day temperature variability on household wealth across 89 LMICs. Our heterogeneity analysis shows that certain regions will be more affected than others. The magnitude of negative effects of day-to-day temperature variability on poverty is largest in Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by Middle East & North Africa, East Asia & Pacific, and South Asia – when compared to Europe & Central Asia.

Available at: