This project explores the effects and the role of safety nets in adaptation to climate change in Central America.
A better understanding of individuals’ responses to extreme climatic events is fundamental for the design of adaptation strategies in developing countries. Safety nets (created by the government, communities, organized groups or families) could be a key component of an adaptation strategy to minimize expected losses. In a climate change scenario in which more frequent and aggressive extreme events are predicted, the risk of suffering losses from extreme events might be correlated across individuals in a given landscape; and adaptation as a strategy can take a collective action dimension. In this light, efforts to insure individuals against extreme events can lead to reduced private adaptation, i.e., individual incentives to take preventive measures could be a function of the government/community investment in public safety nets and vice versa. Our objective is to explore the effects and the role of safety nets in adaptation to climate change in Central America. First, we propose to apply a survey designed to explore whether and how households share risk with a network of peers. Based on what we learn from the collected data, we will refine an experimental design to be applied first with students and then on selected populations of Central America. The results from this study will be an important input into the design of local and national policies to reduce the adverse effects from climate change. To maximize policy impact, both academic and more popular publications will be included as outputs, as well as a dissemination strategy targeting policy makers involved in the increasingly popular process of decentralization of decision-making from the central to local governments.