Vector-borne diseases, development & climate change


  • Richard S.J. Tol
  • Hadi Dowlatabadi


climate change, climate policy, economic growth, malaria, trade, vector borne diseases


Vector-borne diseases are feared to extend their range in a future where global warming has occurred. There is considerable concern about scourges such as malaria re-invading currently temperate regions and reaching into higher altitudes in Africa. In this paper we examine the various factors thought to determine potential infectivity of malaria, and its actual outbreak in the context of a dynamic integrated assessment model. We quantify: (i) the role of demographics in placing a larger population in harms way; (ii) the role of climate change in increasing the potential geographic range and severity of the risk of infection; and (iii) the role of economic and social development in limiting the occurrence of malaria. We then explore the climate and economic implications of various climate policies in their effectiveness to limit potential infectivity of malaria. In illustration of these issues we present the climate-related and economics-related impacts of unilateral CO2 control by OECD on incidence of malaria in non-OECD nations. The model presented here, although highly stylized in its representation of socio-economic factors, provides strong evidence of the role of socio-economic factors in determination of malaria incidence. The case study offers insights into unintended adverse consequences of well-meaning climate policies.

Author Biographies

Richard S.J. Tol

Centre for Marine and Climate Studies, Hamburg University; Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit; and Resources for the Future.

Hadi Dowlatabadi

Sustainable Development Research Institute, University of British Colombia; Centre for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change, Carnegie Mellon University; and Resources for the Future.