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Climate Change, Humidity, and Mortality in the United States

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  • Alan Barreca

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

Abstract

Using data from the United States (c. 1968-2002), this paper estimates the effects of temperature and humidity on mortality rates in order to contribute insight into the potential costs of climate change. Previous research on the health effects of climate change has focused on the impact of temperature changes; this is the first research (that I know) to examine the potential consequences of humidity changes. This analysis leads to five important results: First, I find that failure to control for humidity overstates the importance of cold temperature as a determinant of mortality. Second, I find that there is a reverse-J shaped temperature-mortality relationship, and a reverse-J shaped humidity-mortality relationship. Third, the adverse effects from exposure to cold temperatures and low-humidity levels are both large and statistically significant. Fourth, interacted temperature-humidity models (e.g. "hot and humid") produce similar estimates to non-interacted models (e.g. "hot" or "humid"). Fifth, the effects are largest for cardiovascular and respiratory deaths and for individuals over 45 years of age. On the whole, these results imply that climate change may actually reduce mortality rates in the U.S. by a small amount in the coming decades; however, I demonstrate that failing to control for humidity overstates the health benefits of climate change.

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File URL: http://econ.tulane.edu/RePEc/pdf/tul0906.pdf
File Function: First version, 2009
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File URL: http://econ.tulane.edu/RePEc/pdf/tul0906r1.pdf
File Function: Revised version, 2009
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tulane University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0906.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: May 2009
Date of revision: Jul 2009
Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:0906

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Keywords: climate change; humidity; temperature; mortality; health;

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References

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  1. Martens, W. J. M., 1998. "Climate change, thermal stress and mortality changes," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 331-344, February.
  2. Olivier Deschênes & Michael Greenstone, 2007. "Climate Change, Mortality, and Adaptation: Evidence from Annual Fluctuations in Weather in the US," NBER Working Papers 13178, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Richard Tol, 2002. "Estimates of the Damage Costs of Climate Change, Part II. Dynamic Estimates," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(2), pages 135-160, February.
  4. Richard Tol, 2002. "Estimates of the Damage Costs of Climate Change. Part 1: Benchmark Estimates," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(1), pages 47-73, January.
  5. Grossman, Michael, 2000. "The human capital model," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 347-408 Elsevier.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Nicholas J. Sanders, 2012. "What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker: Prenatal Pollution Exposure and Educational Outcomes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(3), pages 826-850.
  2. Balvers, Ronald & Du, Ding & Zhao, Xiaobing, 2012. "The Adverse Impact of Gradual Temperature Change on Capital Investment," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 124676, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  3. Joshua S. Graff Zivin & Matthew J. Neidell, 2011. "The Impact of Pollution on Worker Productivity," NBER Working Papers 17004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Christopher R. Knittel & Douglas L. Miller & Nicholas J. Sanders, 2011. "Caution, Drivers! Children Present: Traffic, Pollution, and Infant Health," Working Papers 1113, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
  5. Karen Fisher-Vanden & Ian Sue Wing & Elisa Lanzi & David Popp, 2013. "Modeling climate change feedbacks and adaptation responses: recent approaches and shortcomings," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 117(3), pages 481-495, April.
  6. Alan Barreca, 2009. "The Long-Term Economic Impact of In Utero and Postnatal Exposure to Malaria," Working Papers 0905, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  7. Olivier Deschênes & Michael Greenstone, 2007. "Climate Change, Mortality, and Adaptation: Evidence from Annual Fluctuations in Weather in the US," NBER Working Papers 13178, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Alan Barreca & Karen Clay & Olivier Deschenes & Michael Greenstone & Joseph S. Shapiro, 2013. "Adapting to Climate Change: The Remarkable Decline in the U.S. Temperature-Mortality Relationship over the 20th Century," NBER Working Papers 18692, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Beatty, Timothy K.M. & Shimshack, Jay P., 2014. "Air pollution and children's respiratory health: A cohort analysis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 39-57.

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