Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lit in Review: Climate Change and Investment in Vietnam

Dang, Anh Duc (2012) "Cooperation makes beliefs: Weather variation and sources of social trust in Vietnam" ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics #596.

Dang - a PhD candidate at ANU - begins with Durante's (2009) finding that large weather variation in medieval times led to more collective action in Europe and hence to more social trust. Applying a similar methodology to Vietnam's 1927-1995 regional rainfall variation (both monthly and maximal), Dang shows that regions that had higher weather variability also have higher social trust. Social trust is measured by surveys asking if respondents feel they can trust their community and if there is someone outside their household to whom they could turn for help in hard times. Oddly, while recognizing that migrants are part of an interesting dynamic with social trust, Dang excludes them completely, focusing only on households where at least one adult has lived in that community their entire life. I also find it odd that he is worried about unobserved non-geographic factors that would determine both rainfall and social trust among people who haven't migrated.

Among the implications of this work is that climate change is likely to impact individual adaptive behavior through changing levels of trust and social cooperation. This will tend to mitigate some of its negative effects on individuals.

Chinowsky, Paul, Amy Schweikert, Niko Strzepek, and Kenneth Strzepek (2012) "Road Infrastructure and Climate Change in Vietnam," UNU-WIDER Working Paper 2012/80.

They consider the tradeoff between expanding road access to more areas today and upgrading and maintaining existing roads to prepare for and respond to climate change. Even while assuming sea levels rise by one meter, they show that the large majority of cases involve costs in the lower end of the distribution. Despite that, it is cheaper in terms of foregone roads to adapt to future climate change than to await its eventual impact and rebuild roads once the uncertainty is resolved. In the minimum impact scenario, Vietnam would be no worse off for making adaptive investments.

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