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Abstract: We use a panel of country-level crop yields in Africa to estimate the relationship between yields and temperature as well as precipitation. Maize, sorghum, millet, and groundnuts are predicted to show significant yield reductions in the medium term even under moderate warming. Our estimation uses the distribution of temperatures within each day at the location a particular crop is grown. Given potential data quality issues for Africa, the predicted temperature response function is contrasted to the one in the United States, where we find robust nonlinear temperature effects, i.e., yields are first increasing in temperature, but decrease sharply once they pass an upper threshold (29C for maize). The slope of the decline above the threshold is much steeper than the incline below it. The increased frequency of temperatures above the upper threshold is responsible for the significant reduction in yields.
*The Massachusetts Avenue Development Seminar (MADS) series is an effort by the Center for Global Development and The Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies to take advantage of the incredible concentration of great international development scholars in the Metro Washington, DC area. The series seeks to bring together members of this community and improve communication between them.