Temperature, Worker Productivity, and Adaptation: Evidence from Survey Data Production
49 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2020
Date Written: September 13, 2020
This paper estimates the impact of daily weather on worker productivity by using household survey data to study interviewers. Using data from over 9,000 Demographic and Health Survey interviewers in 46 countries, I ﬁnd that interviewers complete 14 percent fewer interviews per hour on the hottest and most humid days. Workers maintain the same total output by starting earlier in the day and spending more time on each interview at the expense of spending more hours in the ﬁeld with the same total pay. In addition, interviewers become differentially less productive on tasks that are less easily monitored. These ﬁndings are important not only because temperatures are predicted to rise signiﬁcantly over the next century, but also because they shed light on how adaptation by workers to adverse conditions can be costly in ways not captured by aggregate productivity measures such as GDP.
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