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

  • Olivier Deschenes

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18345.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Deschenes, Olivier, 2014. "Temperature, human health, and adaptation: A review of the empirical literature," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 606-619.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18345
Note: EEE
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