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Scholars have grown increasingly interested in the association between climate conditions and social unrest. Though no consensus exists regarding the specific mechanisms that connect both phenomena, scholars have found a links between rising temperatures, precipitation, or the magnitude of disasters and social unrest. However, is unclear to what extent deviations from historical trends rather than absolute levels might serve as important indicators of unrest. Moreover, it remains unclear how effectively socio-demographic factors like quality of life and ethno-religious fragmentation can explain trends on unrest, net of climatological indicators. This project tests the extent to which deviation from historical trends in precipitation is associated with an increase in the frequency of protests in India (2016) – net of key indicators of quality of life and socio-economic fragmentation. District-level analyses employ satellite-based precipitation data and protest event data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) project, combined with socio-demographic data from the India Census and related sources. Results indicate that protests levels are associated with climatological and quality of life or social inequality indicators. Moreover, results generally indicate a strong relationship between deviation from historically average precipitation and protests. However, the direction of this association varies cross years. Implications of these results are discussed as potentially related to increasing climatological instability.
Advisor: Regina Werum