Households and heat stress: estimating the distributional consequences of climate change


Recent research documents the adverse causal impacts on health and productivity of extreme heat, which will worsen with climate change. In this paper, we assess the current distribution of heat exposure within countries, to explore possible distributional consequences of climate change through temperature. Combining survey data from 690,745 households across 52 countries with spatial data on climate, this paper suggests that the welfare impacts of added heat stress may be regressive within countries. We find: (1) a strong negative correlation between household wealth and warmer temperature in many hot countries; (2) a strong positive correlation between household wealth and warmer temperatures in many cold countries; and (3) that poorer individuals are more likely to work in occupations with greater exposure. While our analysis is descriptive rather than causal, our results suggest a larger vulnerability of poor people to heat extremes, and potentially significant distributional and poverty implications of climate change.

Park, J., Bangalore, M., Hallegatte, S., & Sandhoefner, E. (2018). In: Environment and Development Economics, 23(3), 349-368. doi:10.1017/S1355770X1800013X