Climate change through a poverty lens


Analysis of the economic impact of climate change typically considers regional or national economies and assesses its impact on macroeconomic aggregates such as gross domestic product. These studies therefore do not investigate the distributional impacts of climate change within countries or the impacts on poverty. This Perspective aims to close this gap and provide an assessment of climate change impacts at the household level to investigate the consequences of climate change for poverty and for poor people. It does so by combining assessments of the physical impacts of climate change in various sectors with household surveys. In particular, it highlights how rapid and inclusive development can reduce the future impact of climate change on poverty.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Number of additional people in extreme poverty in 2030 because of climate change, in the four scenarios.
Figure 2: Climate change impacts through each of the five channels, sampled from 1,200 scenarios in 92 countries.
Figure 3: Income loss caused by climate change for the poorest 20%, as a function of income of the bottom 20% in the baseline in 1,200 baseline scenarios in 92 countries.
Figure 4: National private household income losses (%) due to climate change in 2030, in 1,200 baseline scenarios in 92 countries.
Figure 5


  1. 1

    IPCC. Summary for Policymakers. In Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (eds Field, C. B. et al.) (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014).

  2. 2

    Olsson, L. et al. in Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (eds Field, C. B. et al.) 793–832 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014).

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Arent, D. J. et al. in Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (eds Field, C. B. et al.) 659–708 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014).

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Tol, R. S. Estimates of the damage costs of climate change. Part 1: benchmark estimates. Environ. Resour. Econ. 21, 47–73 (2002).

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Tol, R. S. The economic effects of climate change. J. Econ. Perspect. 23, 29–51 (2009).

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Nordhaus, W. Estimates of the social cost of carbon: concepts and results from the DICE-2013R model and alternative approaches. J. Assoc. Environ. Resour. Econ. 1, 273–312 (2014).

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Mendelsohn, R., Morrison, W., Schlesinger, M. E. & Andronova, N. G. Country-specific market impacts of climate change. Climatic Change 45, 553–569 (2000).

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Hope, C. The marginal impact of CO2 from PAGE2002: an integrated assessment model incorporating the IPCC's five reasons for concern. Integr. Assess. 6, 19–56 (2006).

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Stern, N. The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006).

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Yohe, G. & Tol, R. S. J. Indicators for social and economic coping capacity—moving toward a working definition of adaptive capacity. Glob. Environ. Change 12, 25–40 (2002).

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Mendelsohn, R., Dinar, A. & Williams, L. The distributional impact of climate change on rich and poor countries. Environ. Dev. Econ. 11, 159–178 (2006).

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Sterner, T. & Persson, U. M. An even sterner review: introducing relative prices into the discounting debate. Rev. Environ. Econ. Policy 2, 61–76 (2008).

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Skoufias, E., Rabassa, M., Olivieri, S. & Brahmbhatt, M. The Poverty Impacts of Climate Change (World Bank, 2011).

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Dollar, D. & Kraay, A. Growth is good for the poor. J. Econ. Growth 7, 195–225 (2002).

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Dollar, D., Kleineberg, T. & Kraay, A. Growth Still is Good for the Poor. Policy Research Working Paper 6568 (World Bank, 2013).

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Noack, F., Wunder, S., Angelsen, A. & Boerner, Jan. Responses to Weather and Climate: A Cross-Section Analysis of Rural Incomes Policy Research Working Paper 7478 (World Bank, 2015).

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Hallegatte, S. et al. Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty (World Bank, 2015).

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Hertel, T. W., Burke, M. B. & Lobell, D. B. The poverty implications of climate-induced crop yield changes by 2030. Glob. Environ. Change 20, 577–585 (2010).

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Ivanic, M. & Martin, W. Implications of Higher Global Food Prices for Poverty in Low-Income Countries. Policy Research Working Paper 4594 (World Bank, 2008).

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Winsemius, H. C. et al. Disaster Risk, Climate Change, and Poverty: Assessing the Global Exposure of Poor People to Floods and Droughts. Policy Research Working Paper 3225 (World Bank, 2015).

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Park, J., Hallegatte, S., Bangalore, M. & Sandhoefner, E. Households and Heat Stress: Estimating the Distributional Consequences of Climate Change. Policy Research Working Paper 7479 (World Bank, 2015).

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Heltberg, R., Oviedo, A. M. & Talukdar, F. What are the Sources of Risk and How do People Cope? Insights from Households Surveys in 16 Countries (World Bank, 2014).

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Sen, B. Drivers of escape and descent: changing household fortunes in rural Bangladesh. World Dev. 31, 513–534 (2003).

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Krishna, A. Pathways out of and into poverty in 36 villages of Andhra Pradesh, India. World Dev. 34, 271–288 (2006).

    Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Krishna, A. in Reducing Global Poverty: The Case for Asset Accumulation (ed. Moser, C. O. N.) 62–79 (Brooking Institution Press, 2007).

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    Moser, C. O. N. (Ed.) Reducing Global Poverty: The Case for Asset Accumulation (Brookings Institution Press, 2007).

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    Carter, M. R. & Barrett, C. B. The economics of poverty traps and persistent poverty: an asset-based approach. J. Dev. Stud. 42, 178–199 (2006).

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28

    Dercon, S. Growth and shocks: evidence from rural Ethiopia. J. Dev. Econ. 74, 309–329 (2004).

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Savard, L. Poverty and inequality analysis within a CGE framework: a comparative analysis of the representative agent and microsimulation approaches. Dev. Policy Rev. 23, 313–331 (2005).

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30

    Bourguignon, F., Ferreira, F. H. & Lustig, N. The Microeconomics of Income Distribution Dynamics in East Asia and Latin America (World Bank Publications, 2005).

    Google Scholar 

  31. 31

    Bussolo, M., De Hoyos, R. & Medvedev, D. Economic growth and income distribution: linking macroeconomic models with household survey data at the global level. Int. J. Microsimulation 3, 92–103 (2010).

    Google Scholar 

  32. 32

    Olivieri, S. et al. Simulating Distributional Impacts of Macro-dynamics: Theory and Practical Applications (World Bank, 2014).

    Google Scholar 

  33. 33

    KC, S. & Lutz, W. Demographic scenarios by age, sex and education corresponding to the SSP narratives. Popul. Environ. 35, 243–260 (2014).

    Google Scholar 

  34. 34

    Rozenberg, J. & Hallegatte, S. The Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty in 2030 and the Potential from Rapid, Inclusive, and Climate-Informed Development. Policy Research Working Paper 7483 (World Bank, 2015).

    Google Scholar 

  35. 35

    O'Neill, B. C. et al. A new scenario framework for climate change research: the concept of shared socioeconomic pathways. Climatic Change 122, 387–400 (2013).

    Google Scholar 

  36. 36

    O'Neill, B. C. et al. The roads ahead: narratives for shared socioeconomic pathways describing world futures in the 21st century. Glob. Environ. Change 42, 169–180 (2015).

    Google Scholar 

  37. 37

    Havlík, P. et al. Climate Change Impacts and Mitigation in the Developing World: an Integrated Assessment of Agriculture and Forestry Sectors (IIASA, 2015).

    Google Scholar 

  38. 38

    Bouwer, L. M. Projections of future extreme weather losses under changes in climate and exposure. Risk Anal. 33, 915–930 (2013).

    Google Scholar 

  39. 39

    Hallegatte, S., Vogt-Schilb, A., Bangalore, M. & Rozenberg, J. Unbreakable: Building the Resilience of the Poor in the Face of Natural Disasters (World Bank, 2016).

    Google Scholar 

  40. 40

    Deryugina, T. & Hsiang, S. M. Does the Environment Still Matter? Daily Temperature and Income in the United States (National Bureau of Economic Research, 2014).

    Google Scholar 

  41. 41

    Heal, G. & Park, J. Feeling the Heat: Temperature, Physiology and the Wealth of Nations NBER Working Paper No. 19725 (National Bureau of Economic Research, 2013).

    Google Scholar 

  42. 42

    Hales, S., Kovats, S., Lloyd, S. & Campbell-Lendrum, D. (Eds) Quantitative Risk Assessment of the Effects of Climate Change on Selected Causes of Death, 2030s and 2050s (World Health Organization, 2014).

    Google Scholar 

  43. 43

    Kolstad, E. W. & Johansson, K. A. Uncertainties associated with quantifying climate change impacts on human health: a case study for diarrhea. Environ. Health Perspect. 119, 299–305 (2010).

    Google Scholar 

  44. 44

    Caminade, C. et al. Impact of climate change on global malaria distribution. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 3286–3291 (2014).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  45. 45

    Hahn, R. W. & Ulph, A. Climate Change and Common Sense: Essays in Honour of Tom Schelling (Oxford Univ. Press, 2012).

    Google Scholar 

  46. 46

    Caminade, C. & Jones, A. E. Epidemiology: Malaria in a warmer West Africa. Nat. Clim. Change 6, 984–985 (2016).

    Google Scholar 

  47. 47

    Global Monitoring Report 2014/2015: Ending Poverty and Sharing Prosperity (World Bank, 2015).

  48. 48

    Dennig, F., Budolfson, M. B., Fleurbaey, M., Siebert, A. & Socolow, R. H. Inequality, climate impacts on the future poor, and carbon prices. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 112, 15827–15832 (2015).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  49. 49

    Moser, C. & Felton, A. In Reducing Global Poverty: The Case for Asset Accumulation (Ed. Moser, C. O. N.) 15–50 (Brookings Institution Press, 2008).

    Google Scholar 

  50. 50

    Fay, M. The Urban Poor in Latin America (World Bank, 2005).

    Google Scholar 

  51. 51

    Bandyopadhyay, S. & Skoufias, E. Rainfall variability, occupational choice, and welfare in rural Bangladesh. Rev. Econ. Household 13, 589–634 (2013).

    Google Scholar 

  52. 52

    Elbers, C., Gunning, J. W. & Kinsey, B. Growth and risk: methodology and micro evidence. World Bank Econ. Rev. (2007).

  53. 53

    Dercon, S. & Christiaensen, L. Consumption risk, technology adoption and poverty traps: evidence from Ethiopia. J. Dev. Econ. 96, 159–173 (2011).

    Google Scholar 

  54. 54

    Checkley, W. et al. Multi-country analysis of the effects of diarrhoea on childhood stunting. Int. J. Epidemiol. 37, 816–830 (2008).

    Google Scholar 

  55. 55

    Lall, S. V. & Deichmann, U. Density and disasters: economics of urban hazard risk. World Bank Res. Obs. 27, 74–105 (2012).

    Google Scholar 

  56. 56

    Field, E. Entitled to work: urban property rights and labor supply in Peru. Q. J. Econ. 122, 1561–1602 (2007).

    Google Scholar 

  57. 57

    Tschakert, P. The Role of Inequality in Climate-Poverty Debates. Policy Research Working Paper 7677 (World Bank, 2016).

    Google Scholar 

  58. 58

    Patankar, A. & Patwardhan, A. Estimating the uninsured losses due to extreme weather events and implications for informal sector vulnerability: a case study of Mumbai, India. Natural Hazards 80, 285–310 (2014).

    Google Scholar 

  59. 59

    Patankar, A. The Exposure, Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity of Households to Floods in Mumbai. Policy Research Working Paper 7481 (World Bank, 2015).

    Google Scholar 

  60. 60

    Carter, M. R. & Janzen, S. A. Social Protection in the Face of Climate Change: Targeting Principles and Financing Mechanisms. Policy Research Working Paper 7476 (World Bank, 2015).

    Google Scholar 

  61. 61

    Alderman, H., Hoddinott, J. & Kinsey, B. Long term consequences of early childhood malnutrition. Oxford Econ. Pap. 58, 450–474 (2006).

    Google Scholar 

  62. 62

    Jensen, R. Agricultural volatility and investments in children. Am. Econ. Rev. 90, 399–404 (2000).

    Google Scholar 

  63. 63

    Yamano, T., Alderman, H. & Christiaensen, L. Child growth, shocks, and food aid in rural Ethiopia. Am. J. Agr. Econ. 87, 273–288 (2005).

    Google Scholar 

  64. 64

    Dercon, S. & Porter, C. Live Aid revisited: long-term impacts of the 1984 Ethiopian famine on children. J. Eur. Econ. Assoc. 12, 927–948 (2014).

    Google Scholar 

  65. 65

    Del Ninno, C., Dorosh, P. A., Smith, L. C. & Roy, D. K. The 1998 Floods in Bangladesh: Disaster Impacts, Household Coping Strategies, and Responses (International Food Policy Research Institute, 2001).

    Google Scholar 

  66. 66

    Ajibade, I., McBean, G. & Bezner-Kerr, R. Urban flooding in Lagos, Nigeria: patterns of vulnerability and resilience among women. Glob. Environ. Change 23, 1714–1725 (2013).

    Google Scholar 

  67. 67

    Hentschel, J., Lanjouw, J. O., Lanjouw, P. & Poggi, J. Combining census and survey data to trace the spatial dimensions of poverty: a case study of Ecuador. World Bank Econ. Rev. 14, 147–165 (2000).

    Google Scholar 

  68. 68

    Smith, J. B. et al. Assessing dangerous climate change through an update of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “reasons for concern”. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 106, 4133–4137 (2009).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  69. 69

    Del Ninno, C., Dorosh, P. A. & Smith, L. C. Public policy, markets and household coping strategies in Bangladesh: avoiding a food security crisis following the 1998 floods. World Dev. 31, 1221–1238 (2003).

    Google Scholar 

  70. 70

    Ahmed, S. A., Diffenbaugh, N. S. & Hertel, T. W. Climate volatility deepens poverty vulnerability in developing countries. Environ. Res. Lett. 4, 034004 (2009).

    Google Scholar 

  71. 71

    O'Brien, K. L. & Leichenko, R. M. Double exposure: assessing the impacts of climate change within the context of economic globalization. Glob. Environ. Change 10, 221–232 (2000).

    Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors acknowledge the contributions and feedback from the core author group of the Shock Waves report, including Mook Bangalore, Laura Bonzanigo, Ulf Narloch, Tamaro Kane, David Treguer, and Adrien Vogt-Schilb. The report was produced with guidance and under the supervision of Marianne Fay and John Roome. Guidance was provided by the report's peer reviewers: Carter Brandon, Richard Damania, Francisco H. G. Ferreira, Masami Kojima, Andrea Liverani, Tamer Rabie, Emmanuel Skoufias, and Mike Toman. Purnamita Dasgupta, Stefan Dercon, Kristie Ebi, Chris Field, Michael Oppenheimer, and Youba Sokona also contributed as external advisors to the author team.

Author information




SH and JR developed the methodological approach and the model, and wrote the manuscript. JR implemented and ran the model, performed the statistical analyses of the results, and generated the figures.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Julie Rozenberg.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Material (PDF 2618 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hallegatte, S., Rozenberg, J. Climate change through a poverty lens. Nature Clim Change 7, 250–256 (2017).

Download citation

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing