Date of Graduation

Summer 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in International and Development Economics (MSIDEC)


College of Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Jesse Anttila-Hughes


Unlike weather patterns, the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a large-scale, cyclical climate system that is now predictable for up to a year and a half in advance. ENSO cycles occur every two to seven years for approximately two years at a time, affecting large swaths of the globe with plausibly random variation in the exact location and strength of local effects. However, its systemic nature allows for aggregate effects to be accounted for by its outcomes. This research uses novel 0.5 x 0.5 degree ENSO teleconnection analysis for precipitation and temperature to uncover environmental mechanisms that underly the relationship between climate and conflict. We find that a 1 °C increase in sea surface temperature anomaly in the Nino3.4 region is attributed to an approximately 25% increase in risk of conflict onset in countries affected by ENSO and an increase in district-level conflict intensity of approximately 0.7 more deaths per 100,000. The effects in Africa appear much stronger, with a 1 °C increase in sea surface temperature anomaly in the Nino3.4 region attributed to approximately 25 more deaths per 100,000. This research replicates the findings in previous literature on national-level effects of ENSO on conflict and digs deeper into uncovering the magnitude and nature of the mechanisms between ENSO and conflict.