Working Papers

Climate change and migration: the case of Africa
(job market paper)

This paper provides a spatial general equilibrium model to quantify the impact of climate change on the economy and migration. The model can capture the role of the transportation network and agricultural suitability on the distribution of population and GDP accounting for endogenous adjustments of crop choice and trade. I use detailed geospatial data from 42 countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to simulate the impact of climate using forecasts of agricultural productivity in 2080. Climate change is estimated to displace 12 percent of the SSA population and reduce real GDP by 4 percent. The capacity of switching crops, urbanizing, or trading goods is found to reduce the impact of climate change in terms of population outflows. Finally, I find that the adoption of modern inputs in agriculture can reverse considerably the negative impacts of climate change.

The Power of Markets: Impact of Desert Locust Invasions on Child Health
joint with L. Piemontese and A. Tapsoba, under review.

This paper investigates the consequences of a locust plague that occurred in Mali in 2004. We provide evidence of substantial crop market effects that explain the space-time pattern of the estimated impact of this plague. We argue first that the plague has affected households in Mali through two channels: first, a speculative price effect that kicked in during the plague itself, followed by a local crop failure effect. We find that, in terms of health setbacks, children exposed in utero only to the speculative price effect suffered as much as those exposed to the actual crop failure effect. Once we account for the impact on local crop prices, the estimated speculative effect vanishes, whereas the crop failure effect persists. Children born in isolated areas suffer more from the crop failure effect. Our results suggest that addressing local market reactions to this type of agricultural shocks is crucial for policy design.

Local Sectoral Specialization in a Warming World
joint with K. Desmet, D. Nagy, and E. Rossi-Hansberg, submitted.

This paper quantitatively assesses the world's changing economic geography and sectoral specialization due to global warming. It proposes a two-sector dynamic spatial growth model that incorporates the relation between economic activity, carbon emissions, and temperature. The model is taken to the data at the 1° by 1° resolution for the entire world. Over a 200-year horizon, rising temperatures consistent with emissions under Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 push people and economic activity northwards to Siberia, Canada, and Scandinavia. Compared to a world without climate change, clusters of agricultural specialization shift from Central Africa, Brazil, and India's Ganges Valley, to Central Asia, parts of China and northern Canada. Equatorial latitudes that lose agriculture specialize more in non-agriculture but, due to their persistently low productivity, lose population. By the year 2200, predicted losses in real GDP and utility are 6% and 15%, respectively. Higher trade costs make adaptation through changes in sectoral specialization more costly, leading to less geographic concentration in agriculture and larger climate-induced migration.

Work in Progress

So far away from you: the role of market access on inequality
joint with A. Rodríguez-Sala.

Machine learning for development data - gridded GDP data of the world

Policy Work

Quality of Institutions and Structural Transformation - Distortions and resource allocation in North Africa
joint with Thiemo Fetzer and Hannes Mueller [policy brief, full text]