Maria Waldinger (LSE) EHS Tawney Fellow

How does the effect of climate on economic growth change in an industrialising world?

Evidence from variation in temperature changes and industrialisation in Europe, 1500–1950

Maria Waldinger is a PhD Candidate at the London School of Economics. Her research focuses on the effect of long term climatic changes in the past on economic outcome variables. In particular, she examines the effects of gradual long-term temperature changes during the Little Ice Age on economic growth in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1750. Maria uses GIS software to combine panel data on city size for 2000 European cities (as a proxy for economic growth) and yearly temperature data since 1500. Her results indicate that, in this relatively cold period, temperature increases had a positive effect on city size. This effect varies across climate zones. Temperature increases have a positive effect on city size in cold areas and a negative effect in warm areas. She uses historical wheat price data to show that temperature affected city size through its effect on agricultural productivity. Cities that depended especially on agriculture, such as small towns and towns without access to long distance trade networks, were especially affected.

In her postdoctoral research, Maria continues her work on the effects of climatic changes and in the past on economic and political outcome variables. She is especially interested in exploring the heterogeneous effect of climate and its long term effect on political institutions.