The income-climate trap of health development: A comparative analysis of African and Non-African countries

Kam Ki Tang, Dennis Petrie, D. S. Prasada Rao

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    This article conducts a comparative analysis of the interrelationship between climate, life expectancy and income between African and non-African countries. To put the analysis in a broader context of development, the paper develops an income-climate trap model that explains the multi-directional interaction between income, climate and life expectancy. It is suggested that the interaction can give rise to either a virtuous cycle of prosperity or a vicious cycle of poverty. Applying the model to a data set of 158 countries, we find that climate is a more important determinant of life expectancy in African countries than in non-African countries. We provide further empirical evidence that while climate is important in determining both life expectancy and income, income can in turn moderate the adverse effects of climate on life expectancy. In the past two decades, the income level of non-African countries has grown significantly while that of African countries has largely been stagnant, implying that the future development of African countries remains highly vulnerable to adverse climatic conditions. These findings have important implications in the context of climate change, as global warming is likely to create worsening climatic conditions that could see many less developed countries sinking deeper into an income-climate trap of underdevelopment in health. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1099-1106
    Number of pages8
    JournalSocial Science and Medicine
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


    • Mortality
    • Climate
    • Virtuous cycle
    • Vicious cycle
    • Development
    • Climate change
    • Africa
    • WORLD
    • LIFE


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