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Rainfall Patterns and Human Settlement in Tropical Africa and Asia Compared : Did African Farmers Face Greater Insecurity?

Papaioannou, Kostadis LU and Frankema, Ewout (2017) In Discussion Paper Series
Abstract
We explore a new dataset of annual and monthly district-level rainfall patterns to assess the longstanding idea that climatological conditions were more conducive to the development of dense rural populations in Asia than in Africa. We test whether there existed significant crossregional differences in both the frequency and intensity of rainfall shocks (i.e. annual mean deviations exceeding one standard deviation). Our results confirm that rainfall shocks in tropical Africa were both more frequent and more severe. Second, we test the separate effects of precipitation levels and variability on district-level population densities from colonial population censuses. We hypothesize that higher mean levels of precipitation facilitate... (More)
We explore a new dataset of annual and monthly district-level rainfall patterns to assess the longstanding idea that climatological conditions were more conducive to the development of dense rural populations in Asia than in Africa. We test whether there existed significant crossregional differences in both the frequency and intensity of rainfall shocks (i.e. annual mean deviations exceeding one standard deviation). Our results confirm that rainfall shocks in tropical Africa were both more frequent and more severe. Second, we test the separate effects of precipitation levels and variability on district-level population densities from colonial population censuses. We hypothesize that higher mean levels of precipitation facilitate agricultural intensification and human settlement, while unpredictability of rainfall has the opposite effect. Controlling for average rainfall levels, we find a strong negative effect of rainfall variation on population densities. This study thus lends further support to a wide literature arguing that the ecological conditions of agricultural intensification were more challenging in the African than in the Asian tropics. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
publishing date
type
Working Paper
publication status
published
subject
keywords
climate, settlement, agriculture, Africa, Asia, N55, N57, O13, O44
in
Discussion Paper Series
issue
DP11795
pages
40 pages
publisher
Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
ISSN
0265-8003
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
4ea6fcba-80a3-40c2-8f79-80020ff912cc
alternative location
http://www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=11795
date added to LUP
2017-09-22 15:34:34
date last changed
2017-09-25 12:57:21
@misc{4ea6fcba-80a3-40c2-8f79-80020ff912cc,
  abstract     = {We explore a new dataset of annual and monthly district-level rainfall patterns to assess the longstanding idea that climatological conditions were more conducive to the development of dense rural populations in Asia than in Africa. We test whether there existed significant crossregional differences in both the frequency and intensity of rainfall shocks (i.e. annual mean deviations exceeding one standard deviation). Our results confirm that rainfall shocks in tropical Africa were both more frequent and more severe. Second, we test the separate effects of precipitation levels and variability on district-level population densities from colonial population censuses. We hypothesize that higher mean levels of precipitation facilitate agricultural intensification and human settlement, while unpredictability of rainfall has the opposite effect. Controlling for average rainfall levels, we find a strong negative effect of rainfall variation on population densities. This study thus lends further support to a wide literature arguing that the ecological conditions of agricultural intensification were more challenging in the African than in the Asian tropics.},
  author       = {Papaioannou, Kostadis and Frankema, Ewout},
  issn         = {0265-8003},
  keyword      = {climate,settlement,agriculture,Africa,Asia,N55,N57,O13,O44},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Working Paper},
  number       = {DP11795},
  pages        = {40},
  publisher    = {Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)},
  series       = {Discussion Paper Series},
  title        = {Rainfall Patterns and Human Settlement in Tropical Africa and Asia Compared : Did African Farmers Face Greater Insecurity?},
  year         = {2017},
}