Increasing ambient temperature reduces emotional well-being

C. Noelke, M. McGovern, D. J. Corsi, M. P. Jimenez, A. Stern, I. Sue Wing, and L. Berkman

Environmental Research (28 July 2016)

DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.06.045

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 50-60°F (10-16°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.

keywords: Climate impacts; Heat exposure; Mental health; Social inequality; Subjective well-being

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