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Increasing Ambient Temperature Reduces Emotional Well-Being


  • Clemens Noelke
  • Mark E. McGovern
  • Daniel J. Corsi
  • Marcia Pescador-Jimenez
  • Ari Stern
  • Ian Sue Wing
  • Lisa Berkman


This study examines the impact of ambient temperature on emotional well-being in the U.S. population aged 18+. The U.S. is an interesting test case because of its resources, technology and variation in climate across different areas, which also allows us to examine whether adaptation to different climates could weaken or even eliminate the impact of heat on well-being. Using survey responses from 1.9 million Americans over the period from 2008 to 2013, we estimate the effect of temperature on well-being from exogenous day-to-day temperature variation within respondents' area of residence and test whether this effect varies across areas with different climates. We find that increasing temperatures significantly reduce well-being. Compared to average daily temperatures in the 50 to 60°F (10 to 16°C) range, temperatures above 70°F (21°C) reduce positive emotions (e.g. joy, happiness), increase negative emotions (e.g. stress, anger), and increase fatigue (feeling tired, low energy). These effects are particularly strong among less educated and older Americans. However, there is no consistent evidence that heat effects on well-being differ across areas with mild and hot summers, suggesting limited variation in heat adaptation.

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  • Clemens Noelke & Mark E. McGovern & Daniel J. Corsi & Marcia Pescador-Jimenez & Ari Stern & Ian Sue Wing & Lisa Berkman, 2016. "Increasing Ambient Temperature Reduces Emotional Well-Being," CHaRMS Working Papers 16-01, Centre for HeAlth Research at the Management School (CHaRMS).
  • Handle: RePEc:qub:charms:1601

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2009. "Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 8769.
    3. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger, 2006. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mullins, Jamie & White, Corey, 2019. "Temperature and Mental Health: Evidence from the Spectrum of Mental Health Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 12603, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Vito Telesca & Aime Lay-Ekuakille & Maria Ragosta & Giuseppina Anna Giorgio & Boniface Lumpungu, 2018. "Effects on Public Health of Heat Waves to Improve the Urban Quality of Life," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(4), pages 1-16, April.
    3. Marie Connolly, 2018. "Climate change and the allocation of time," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 417-417, January.
    4. 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).
    5. Jamie Mullins & Corey White, 2018. "Temperature, Climate Change, and Mental Health: Evidence from the Spectrum of Mental Health Outcomes," Working Papers 1801, California Polytechnic State University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    Mental Health; Heat Exposure; Climate Impacts; Subjective Well-Being; Social Inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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