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Your Environment. Your Health.

Temperature, human health, and adaptation: a review of the empirical literature

Environmental Health Economic Analysis Annotated Bibliography


Deschnes, O
Energy Economics
This empirical review examined the determinants and effects of adaptation on human health in response to extreme weather and climate events, with a narrowed focus on health impacts and adaptation driven by exposure to extreme temperatures. The author concluded that most existing studies found that temperature extremes lead to significant reductions in health, generally measured by excess mortality, and available evidence indicates that adaptation is both economically important and contributes to reducing mortality attributable to temperature extremes. Findings from this review offer broader implications for policy and areas for future research. It is important to develop estimates for countries where economies are more weather-dependent or where current temperatures are higher than in the United States. Due to the lack of infrastructure and limited economic resources in these countries, identifying feasible and life-preserving adaptations is especially important. Additionally, there is a pressing need for developing databases and research designs to study additional forms of adaptation in the United States and elsewhere.
Not available

Health Outcomes

  • Reviewed publications that examined mortality (all-cause and cause-specific mortality (cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease))

Environmental Agents

List of Environmental Agents:

  • Reviewed publications that examined extreme weather/climate change (extreme temperatures)

Source of Environmental Agents:

  • Reviewed publications that examined global climate change

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source

Type: (Not available)

Cost Measured:

  • Reviewed publications that examined adaptation strategies and their role in reducing the health impacts of climate change (household and community level adaptation)
  • adaptation measures
  • temperature exposure variables
  • mortality counts (all-cause and all-age)
  • hospital admission records

Potential Cost Measures:

  • Reviewed publications that examined health-related welfare losses due to morbidity rates, chronic disease, and quality of life

Benefits Measures: (Not available)

Potential Benefits: (Not available)

Location: (Not available)

Models Used:

  • Becker-Grossman economic health production model

Methods Used:

  • The author performed a review of existing literature to examine the relationship between health outcomes, temperature, and adaptation to temperature extremes. The author — 1) presented the conceptual and methodological issues associated with the measurement of the effect of temperature extremes on health, and the role of adaptation in muting these effects; 2) derived the implications of a simple version of the Becker-Grossman economic model of health production in the presence of adaptation, which highlights a key tradeoff between health production and costly adaptation; 3) presented a review of relevant economic literature, as well as the public health and epidemiology literature; and 4) concluded with a discussion on the remaining gaps in the empirical literature, the implications of currently available evidence for assessments of the potential health impacts of global climate change, and guidelines for improving the current Integrated Assessment Model (IAM) literature that seeks to incorporate human health and adaptation in its framework.

Sources Used:

  • Impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability (International Panel on Climate Change Working Group II, 2007); Days of haze: environmental information disclosure and intertemporal avoidance behavior (Graff-Zivin and Neidell, 2009); Relationships between weather and myocardial infarction: a biometerological approach (Morabito et al., 2005); Has the impact of heat waves on mortality changed in France since the European heat wave of summer 2003? A study of the 2006 heat wave (Fouillet et al., 2008); Temperature and cardiovascular deaths in the U.S. elderly (Barnett, 2007); additional sources cited in publication

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source


  • Deschnes, O. 2014. Temperature, human health, and adaptation: a review of the empirical literature. Energy Economics.
  • Pubmed: (Not available)
  • DOI

NIEHS Funding: (Not available)

Other Funding: (Not available)

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