MCCABE JT, Linke A, O'Loughlin J, Tir J, Witmer F. Journal of Colflict Resolution (December 15, 2016).
Two questions on the effects of climate change for social instability are addressed. First, do droughts and their associated environmental impacts affect support for the use of violence? Second, do local level formal and informal institutions moderate support for violence where droughts become worse? To answer these questions a national survey of 1,400 Kenyans was conducted in 2014. Respondents were asked about patterns of rainfall and the presence of rules regulating natural resource use and access. Survey data are joined to spatially disaggregated observed rainfall trends. The survey uses endorsement experiments to elicit honest responses about support for using violence. There is some evidence of a direct link between reported and observed drought and violent attitudes, though it is limited. The analysis suggests that certain local-level natural resource use rules have moderating and dampening effects on support for violence where drought is reported and precipitation is less frequent. This conditional and contextual effect is an important modification of overly simplistic narratives of climate change effects.