Adapting to Climate Change: The Remarkable Decline in the U.S. Temperature-Mortality Relationship Over the 20th Century
(with Alan Barreca, Karen Clay, Michael Greenstone, and Joseph Shapiro)
Journal of Political Economy, 2016


Abstract:
This paper examines the temperature-mortality relationship over the course of the 20th century US both for its own interest and to identify potentially useful adaptations for coming decades. There are three primary findings. First, the mortality impact of days with mean temperature exceeding 80° F declined by 75%. Almost the entire decline occurred after 1960. Second, the diffusion of residential air conditioning (AC) explains essentially the entire decline in hot day related fatalities. Third, using Dubin-McFadden’s discrete-continuous model, the present value of US consumer surplus from the introduction of residential AC is estimated to be $85 to $188 billion ($2012).

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Media Coverage: Washington Post


Media Coverage: New York Times


Convergence in Adaptation to Climate Change: Evidence from High Temperatures and Mortality, 1900-2004
(with Alan Barreca, Karen Clay, Michael Greenstone, and Joseph Shapiro)
American Economic Review, Papers & Proceedings, 2015


Abstract:

This paper combines panel data on monthly mortality rates of U.S. states and daily temperature variables for over a century (1900-2004) to explore the regional evolution of the temperature-mortality relationship and documents two key findings.  First, the impact of extreme heat on mortality is notably smaller in states that more frequently experience extreme heat. Second, the difference in the heat-mortality relationship between hot and cold states declined over 1900-2004, though it persisted through 2004. Continuing differences in the mortality consequences of hot days suggests that health motivated adaptation to climate change may be slow and costly around the world.

 

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Temperature, Human Health, and Adaptation: A Review of the Empirical Literature
Energy Economics, 2014

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 few real-world data sets on 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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