Will Adaptation to Climate Change Be Slow and Costly? Evidence from High Temperatures and Mortality, 1900-2004

19 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2015 Last revised: 27 Jan 2015

See all articles by Alan I. Barreca

Alan I. Barreca

UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Karen Clay

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Olivier Deschenes

University of California, Santa Barbara - College of Letters & Science - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Michael Greenstone

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; Becker Friedman Institute for Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Joseph S. Shapiro

Yale University, Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Date Written: January 20, 2015

Abstract

This paper builds on Barreca et al.’s (2013) finding that over the course of the 20th century the proliferation of residential air conditioning led to a remarkable decline in mortality due to extreme temperature days in the United States. Using panel data on monthly mortality rates of U.S. states and daily temperature variables for over a century (1900-2004) it explores the regional evolution in this 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 the period 1900-2004, though it persisted through 2004. For example, the effect of hot days on mortality in cool states over the years 1980-2004, a period when residential air conditioning was widely available, is almost identical to the effect of hot days on mortality in hot states over the years 1900-1939, a period when air conditioning was not available for homes. 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.

Keywords: H04, I01, Q04, Q05

JEL Classification: adaptation, climate change, air conditioning, compensatory behavior, convergence, mortality

Suggested Citation

Barreca, Alan I. and Clay, Karen B. and Deschenes, Olivier and Greenstone, Michael and Shapiro, Joseph S., Will Adaptation to Climate Change Be Slow and Costly? Evidence from High Temperatures and Mortality, 1900-2004 (January 20, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2552786 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2552786

Alan I. Barreca

UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability ( email )

Los Angeles, CA
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Karen B. Clay

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Olivier Deschenes

University of California, Santa Barbara - College of Letters & Science - Department of Economics ( email )

UC Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Michael Greenstone (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Becker Friedman Institute for Economics ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Joseph S. Shapiro

Yale University, Department of Economics ( email )

37 Hillhouse Ave, Room 34
New Haven, CT 06510
United States
203-432-5075 (Phone)
203-432-6323 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://economics.yale.edu/people/joseph-s-shapiro

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

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