Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Climate change will increase local government fiscal stress in the United States

Climate hazards can compound existing stresses on the revenues and expenditures of local governments, revealing potential risks to fiscal stability. Incorporating these risks into local budgeting and strategic planning would encourage a more complete accounting of the benefits of climate adaptation and risk reduction efforts.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: The intersection of physical risks that arise from climate hazards are translated into budget impacts through the exposure in the budget and the fiscal health of a locality.
Fig. 2: Pathways by which climate shocks and trends affect specific categories of revenues and expenditures in the budget.


  1. IPCC Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis (eds Masson-Delmotte, V. et al.) (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2021).

  2. Fourth National Climate Assessment: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States (USGCRP, 2018).

  3. Gilmore, E. A. & St.Clair, T. Clim. Policy 18, 729–741 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. State and Local Governments’ Fiscal Outlook: 2019 Update (GAO, 2019).

  5. Lav, I. J. & Leachman, M. State limits in property taxes hamstring local services and should be relaxed or repealed. Budget and Policy Priorities (18 July 2018).

  6. Liao, Y. & Kousky, C. J. Assoc. Environ. Res. Econ. (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Jerch, R., Kahn., M. E. & Lin, G. C. Local Public Finance Dynamics and Hurricane Shocks (NBER, 2020).

  8. Census of Governments (US Census Bureau, 2017);

  9. Simpson, N. P. et al. One Earth 4, 489–501 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Neumann, J. E. et al. Clim. Change 167, 44 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Haasnoot, M. et al. Glob. Environ. Change 23, 485–498 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was supported as part of the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub under National Science Foundation award ICER-2103754.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



E.G., C.K. and T.S. share credit equally for conceptualization, analysis and writing of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Elisabeth A. Gilmore.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Gilmore, E.A., Kousky, C. & St.Clair, T. Climate change will increase local government fiscal stress in the United States. Nat. Clim. Chang. 12, 216–218 (2022).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


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