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The Marginal Product of Climate


  • Tatyana Deryugina
  • Solomon Hsiang


We develop an empirical approach to value changes to a climate in terms of total market output given optimal factor allocations in general equilibrium. Our approach accounts for unobservable heterogeneity across locations as well as the costs and benefits of adaptation in climates of arbitrary dimension. Importantly, we demonstrate that the Envelope Theorem implies the marginal product of a long-run climate can be exactly identified using only idiosyncratic weather variation. We apply this method to the temperature climate of the modern United States and find that, despite evidence that populations adapt, the marginal product of temperature has remained unchanged during 1970-2010, with high temperatures having low net value. Integrating marginal products recovers a value function for temperature, describing the causal effect of non-marginal climate changes net of adaptive re-optimization. We use this value function to consider the influence of temperature in the current cross-section and a future climate change scenario.

Suggested Citation

  • Tatyana Deryugina & Solomon Hsiang, 2017. "The Marginal Product of Climate," NBER Working Papers 24072, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24072

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Solomon M. Hsiang & Daiju Narita, 2012. "Adaptation To Cyclone Risk: Evidence From The Global Cross-Section," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 3(02), pages 1-28.
    2. Michael J. Roberts & Wolfram Schlenker, 2011. "The Evolution of Heat Tolerance of Corn: Implications for Climate Change," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Climate Change: Adaptations Past and Present, pages 225-251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Alan Barreca & Karen Clay & Olivier Deschenes & Michael Greenstone & Joseph S. Shapiro, 2016. "Adapting to Climate Change: The Remarkable Decline in the US Temperature-Mortality Relationship over the Twentieth Century," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(1), pages 105-159.
    4. Tatyana Deryugina, 2017. "The Fiscal Cost of Hurricanes: Disaster Aid versus Social Insurance," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 168-198, August.
    5. Maximilian Auffhammer & Solomon M. Hsiang & Wolfram Schlenker & Adam Sobel, 2013. "Using Weather Data and Climate Model Output in Economic Analyses of Climate Change," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 7(2), pages 181-198, July.
    6. Kelly, David L. & Kolstad, Charles D. & Mitchell, Glenn T., 2005. "Adjustment costs from environmental change," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 468-495, November.
    7. Arnaud Costinot & Dave Donaldson & Cory Smith, 2016. "Evolving Comparative Advantage and the Impact of Climate Change in Agricultural Markets: Evidence from 1.7 Million Fields around the World," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(1), pages 205-248.
    8. 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.
    9. Melissa Dell & Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2012. "Temperature Shocks and Economic Growth: Evidence from the Last Half Century," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 66-95, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marshall Burke & Vincent Tanutama, 2019. "Climatic Constraints on Aggregate Economic Output," NBER Working Papers 25779, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Mullins, Jamie T. & White, Corey, 2019. "Temperature and mental health: Evidence from the spectrum of mental health outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    3. Olivier Deschenes & Kyle C. Meng, 2018. "Quasi-Experimental Methods in Environmental Economics: Opportunities and Challenges," NBER Working Papers 24903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Etienne ESPAGNE & Nicolas DE LAUBIER-LONGUET MARX & Thanh NGO-DUC, 2019. "Non-linear Impacts of Climate Change on Income and Inequality in Vietnam," Working Paper e47825f2-0059-4010-8291-1, Agence française de développement.
    5. Gammans, Matthew & Mérel, Pierre & Paroissien, Emmanuel, 2020. "Reckoning climate change damages along an envelope," 2020 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, Kansas City, Missouri 304475, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Yoro Diallo & Sébastien Marchand & Etienne Espagne, 2019. "Impacts of extreme events on technical efficiency in Vietnamese agriculture," Working Papers halshs-02080285, HAL.
    7. Damania, R. & Desbureaux, S. & Zaveri, E., 2020. "Does rainfall matter for economic growth? Evidence from global sub-national data (1990–2014)," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 102(C).
    8. Etienne ESPAGNE & Yoro DIALLO, 2019. "Impacts of Extreme Climate Events on Technical Efficiency in Vietnamese Agriculture," Working Paper c1221ee7-5311-4af0-b1b4-3, Agence française de développement.
    9. Tol, Richard S.J., 2019. "A social cost of carbon for (almost) every country," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 555-566.
    10. Richard S.J. Tol, 2020. "The economic impact of climate in the long run," Working Paper Series 1120, Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • R13 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General Equilibrium and Welfare Economic Analysis of Regional Economies

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