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Adapting to Climate Change: The Remarkable Decline in the U.S. Temperature-Mortality Relationship over the 20th Century

Listed author(s):
  • Barreca, Alan I.

    ()

    (University of California, Los Angeles)

  • Clay, Karen

    ()

    (Carnegie Mellon University)

  • Deschenes, Olivier

    ()

    (University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Greenstone, Michael

    ()

    (University of Chicago)

  • Shapiro, Joseph S.

    ()

    (Yale University)

A critical part of adapting to the higher temperatures that climate change brings will be the deployment of existing technologies to new sectors and regions. This paper examines the evolution of the temperature-mortality relationship over the course of the entire 20th century in the United States both for its own interest but also to identify potentially useful adaptations that may be useful in the coming decades. There are three primary findings. First, the mortality impact of days with a mean temperature exceeding 80° F has declined by about 70%. Almost the entire decline occurred after 1960. There are about 14,000 fewer fatalities annually than if the pre-1960 impacts of high temperature on mortality still prevailed. Second, the diffusion of residential air conditioning can explain essentially the entire decline in hot day related fatalities. Third, using Dubin-McFadden's discrete-continuous model, we estimate that the present value of US consumer surplus from the introduction of residential air conditioning (AC) in 1960 ranges from $83 to $186 billion ($2012) with a 5% discount rate. The monetized value of the mortality reductions on high temperature days due to AC accounts for a substantial fraction of these welfare gains.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp8915.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 8915.

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Length: 68 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2015
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8915
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  1. Barreca, Alan I., 2012. "Climate change, humidity, and mortality in the United States," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 19-34.
  2. Deschenes, Olivier, 2014. "Temperature, human health, and adaptation: A review of the empirical literature," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 606-619.
  3. Olivier Deschênes & Michael Greenstone, 2011. "Climate Change, Mortality, and Adaptation: Evidence from Annual Fluctuations in Weather in the US," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 152-185, October.
  4. Dubin, Jeffrey A & McFadden, Daniel L, 1984. "An Econometric Analysis of Residential Electric Appliance Holdings and Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 345-362, March.
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  9. Olivier Deschênes & Enrico Moretti, 2009. "Extreme Weather Events, Mortality, and Migration," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(4), pages 659-681, November.
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  11. E. Somanathan & Rohini Somanathan & Anant Sudarsan & Meenu Tewari, 2014. "The Impact of Temperature on Productivity and Labor Supply: Evidence from Indian Manufacturing," Working Papers id:6308, eSocialSciences.
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  17. Coen-Pirani, Daniele & León, Alexis & Lugauer, Steven, 2010. "The effect of household appliances on female labor force participation: Evidence from microdata," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 503-513, June.
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  23. Martha J. Bailey, 2006. "More Power to the Pill: The Impact of Contraceptive Freedom on Women's Life Cycle Labor Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 289-320.
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