Interntional Food Policy Research Institute
“Labor Response to Climate Variation in Eastern Africa”
Abstract: Knowledge of how changing climate affects workers is crucial to designing effective adaptation policy. Nonetheless, temperature impacts on labor markets are poorly understood, especially in Africa. We address this gap by analyzing panel surveys of labor participation by activity, contractual arrangement, and migration status in four East African countries. We develop a multi-sector labor allocation model to understand the complex relationship between climate productivity impacts and micro-level occupational responses. Using high-resolution climate data, we apply the model to assess labor responses to local temperature anomalies. In rural areas, high temperatures induce a decline in participation in non-agricultural self employment. Urban areas likewise see a decline in non-agricultural self employment, accompanied by a decline in temporary migration. Unlike in rural areas, other sectors are unable to absorb the excess workers leading to an increase in urban unemployment.