Short- and long-term impacts of climate variations on the agrarian economy in pre-industrial Europe

Qing PEI, D. D. ZHANG, G. D. LI, H. LEE

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Only a small number of quantitative studies have investigated the short- and long-term impacts of climate variations on society during Europe’s pre-industrial era. Accordingly, there is a lack of research clearly comparing the consequences of climate variation (short-term) and climate change (long-term). This study focuses on the close relationship between climate variations and the dynamics of the agrarian economy in Europe during the period of 1500 to 1800 AD. ARX modeling was applied to analyze the relationship between climate and past agrarian economies, on large spatial and long temporal scales. Both short- and long-term findings are provided, based on statistical analysis, as well as the empirical study of the 17th century economic crisis as a case analysis. The negative climatic variations in the short-term caused grain prices to increase. Grain prices were affected for up to 25 yr by a period of climatic variation due to the price stickiness. The immediate and long-term effects of climate variations over the study period can add up to significantly influence agrarian economies. Climate change occurs when climate variations last for more than 30 yr. The accumulated effect of climate change on the agrarian economy ultimately resulted in an economic crisis in pre-industrial Europe. Copyright © 2013 Inter-Research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-180
JournalClimate Research
Issue number2
Early online dateMar 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013



Pei, Q., Zhang, D. D., Li, G. D., & Lee, H. (2013). Short- and long-term impacts of climate variations on the agrarian economy in pre-industrial Europe. Climate Research, 56(2), 169-180. doi: 10.3354/cr01145


  • Climate change
  • Grain market
  • Europe
  • Pre-industrial era
  • ARX modeling