Climatic influence on the distribution of population and economic activity

Hans-Martin Fuessel, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

I analyze the influence of climatic factors on population distribution and economic prosperity by applying an updated version of the G-Econ database. Population density assumes a maximum for annual mean temperature between 10 and 14°C and for annual precipitation around or above 1000 mm. The precipitation influence is complex and varies substantially across central estimators of population density. There are very few densely populated areas in cold regions (below 6°C) but quite a few in dry regions (below 400 mm annual precipitation). Hence, suboptimal temperature is a stronger constraint for high population density than insufficient precipitation. The variability of population density across regions with similar mean climate is large, in particular in warm, very cold and dry regions. Therefore, it does not appear feasible to extrapolate the relationships between climate and population identified in this cross-sectional analysis to estimate quantitative impacts of future climate change on population distribution.

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Presented in Session 170: Interrelations between population and climate change