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Climate Change, Mortality, and Adaptation: Evidence from Annual Fluctuations in Weather in the US

Author

Listed:
  • Olivier Deschênes
  • Michael Greenstone

Abstract

This paper produces the first large-scale estimates of the US health related welfare costs due to climate change. Using the presumably random year-to-year variation in temperature and two state of the art climate models, the analysis suggests that under a "business as usual" scenario climate change will lead to an increase in the overall US annual mortality rate ranging from 0.5% to 1.7% by the end of the 21st century. These overall estimates are statistically indistinguishable from zero, although there is evidence of statistically significant increases in mortality rates for some subpopulations, particularly infants. As the canonical Becker-Grossman health production function model highlights, the full welfare impact will be reflected in health outcomes and increased consumption of goods that preserve individuals' health. Individuals' likely first compensatory response is increased use of air conditioning; the analysis indicates that climate change would increase US annual residential energy consumption by a statistically significant 15% to 30% ($15 to $35 billion in 2006 dollars) at the end of the century. It seems reasonable to assume that the mortality impacts would be larger without the increased energy consumption. Further, the estimated mortality and energy impacts likely overstate the long-run impacts on these outcomes, since individuals can engage in a wider set of adaptations in the longer run to mitigate costs. Overall, the analysis suggests that the health related welfare costs of higher temperatures due to climate change are likely to be quite modest in the US.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13178 Note: CH EEE HC HE LS PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2004. "Changes in the Value of Life, 1940--1980," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 159-180, September.
    3. Sandra E. Black, 1999. "Do Better Schools Matter? Parental Valuation of Elementary Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 577-599.
    4. Roback, Jennifer, 1982. "Wages, Rents, and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1257-1278, December.
    5. Richard Tol, 2002. "Estimates of the Damage Costs of Climate Change, Part II. Dynamic Estimates," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, pages 135-160.
    6. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1994:84:11:1738-1742_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2003. "The Impact of Air Pollution on Infant Mortality: Evidence from Geographic Variation in Pollution Shocks Induced by a Recession," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1121-1167.
    8. Harrington, Winston & Portney, Paul R., 1987. "Valuing the benefits of health and safety regulation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 101-112, July.
    9. Michael Greenstone & Justin Gallagher, 2008. "Does Hazardous Waste Matter? Evidence from the Housing Market and the Superfund Program," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, pages 951-1003.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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