The demographic transition and stagnation in countries vulnerable to climate change

Thang Dao, Matthias Kalkuhl, Chrysovalatis Vasilakis

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Climate change, degradation of local essential resources and high population growth could create long-lasting poverty traps and economic stagnation in Sub-Sahara Africa. We develop a theoretical framework that sheds light on mechanisms of economic stagnation that is driven by environmental degradation. Under poor basic infrastructures, environmental conditions impact intra-household labor allocation due to their effects on local essential resources such as water and/or firewood. Climate change damages essential resources, resulting in women having to spend more time collecting them for their families. This, in turn, leads parents to invest less in education for their daughters, resulting in gender inequality in education and income, delaying declines in fertility and creating population momentum. A larger population exacerbates the problem by further degrading essential resources through expanded production, reinforcing stagnation into a low development phase. The interplay between essential resources, gender inequality, and population, under the persistent effect of climate change, may thus generate a slow demographic transition and stagnation. Empirical evidence from 44 Sub-Saharan African countries during the period 1960-2017 confirms our theoretical predictions, emphasizing the urgent need to address these issues to promote sustainable development.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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