Economics and societal considerations of drought

This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.


The economic and social effects of drought are diverse and related to physical characteristics of drought, including spatial extent, severity, duration, and frequency that combine to determine drought’s overall effects on society. Most of the attention given to economic and social impacts of drought focuses on adverse consequences, but technology, public policies, economic activity, and social systems are largely adapted to the historical occurrence of drought-at least within the normal range. This chapter covers traditional impacts from drought, and also highlights possible adaptations, noting when adaptation may be difficult due to growing stresses on water resources in response to changes in global climate and regional demographics.

  • Citation: Prestemon, Jeffrey P.; Kruger, Linda; Abt, Karen L.; Bowker, J. M.; Brandeis, Consuelo; Calkin, David E.; Donovan, Geoffrey H.; Ham, Charlotte; Holmes, Thomas P.; Kline, Jeffrey; Warziniack, Travis. 2016. Economics and societal considerations of drought. In: Vose, J.; Clark, J.; Luce, C.; Patel-Weynand, T. Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis. General Technical Report WO-93b. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. p. 253-281.

Requesting Print Publications

Publication requests are subject to availability. Fiscal responsibility limits the hardcopies of publications we produce and distribute. Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, distributed and printed.

Please make any requests at

Publication Notes

  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
  • To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.