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Temperature, Human Health, and Adaptation: A Review of the Empirical Literature

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  • Olivier Deschenes

Abstract

This paper presents a survey of the empirical literature studying the relationship between health outcomes, temperature, and adaptation to temperature extremes. The objective of the paper is to highlight the many remaining gaps in the empirical literature and to provide guidelines for improving the current Integrated Assessment Model (IAM) literature that seeks to incorporate human health and adaptation in its framework. I begin by presenting the conceptual and methodological issues associated with the measurement of the effect of temperature extremes on health, and the role of adaptation in possibly muting these effects. The main conclusion that emerges from the literature is that despite the wide variety of data sets and settings most studies find that temperature extremes lead to significant reductions in health, generally measured with excess mortality. Regarding the role of adaptation in mitigating the effects of extreme temperature on health, the available knowledge is limited, in part due to the lack of real-world data on measures of adaptation behaviors. Finally, the paper discusses the implications of the currently available evidence for assessments of potential human health impacts of global climate change.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivier Deschenes, 2012. "Temperature, Human Health, and Adaptation: A Review of the Empirical Literature," NBER Working Papers 18345, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18345
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell, 2014. "Temperature and the Allocation of Time: Implications for Climate Change," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 1-26.
    6. 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.
    7. Matthew Neidell, 2009. "Information, Avoidance Behavior, and Health: The Effect of Ozone on Asthma Hospitalizations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(2).
    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. Olivier Deschenes & Michael Greenstone & Jonathan Guryan, 2009. "Climate Change and Birth Weight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 211-217, May.
    10. Anin Aroonruengsawat & Maximilian Auffhammer, 2011. "Impacts of Climate Change on Residential Electricity Consumption: Evidence from Billing Data," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Climate Change: Adaptations Past and Present, pages 311-342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Graff Zivin, Joshua & Neidell, Matthew, 2009. "Days of haze: Environmental information disclosure and intertemporal avoidance behavior," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 119-128, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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