Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Impact of Climate on Life Satisfaction

Straight from the economics department at the University of Birmingham comes a new paper that comes hot on the trail of David Cameron's speech on measuring "happiness" to be used alongside traditional GDP figures.

What if happiness is driven by the climate? What does that mean for the Cancun negotiations and David Cameron's grand plans?

It appears that people are happy when the climate is very average.

David Maddison and Katrin Rehanz investigate.

The Impact of Climate on Life Satisfaction [PDF]
Date: 2010-11

David Maddison
Katrin Rehdanz


We analyse the influence of climate on average life satisfaction in 87 countries using data from the World Values Survey. Climate is described in terms of ‘degree-months’ calculated using an optimally-selected base temperature of 65°F (18.3°C). Our results suggest that countries with climates characterised by a large number of degree-months enjoy significantly lower levels of life satisfaction. This finding is robust to a wide variety of model specifications. Using our results to analyse a particular climate change scenario associated with the IPCC A2 emissions scenario points to major losses for African countries, but modest gains for Northern Europe

Keywords: climate; climate change; happiness; life satisfaction; survey data
JEL: D60


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