Climate change, humidity, and mortality in the United States

J Environ Econ Manage. 2012 Jan 1;63(1):19-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jeem.2011.07.004.


This paper estimates the effects of humidity and temperature on mortality rates in the United States (c. 1973-2002) in order to provide an insight into the potential health impacts of climate change. I find that humidity, like temperature, is an important determinant of mortality. Coupled with Hadley CM3 climate-change predictions, I project that mortality rates are likely to change little on the aggregate for the United States. However, distributional impacts matter: mortality rates are likely to decline in cold and dry areas, but increase in hot and humid areas. Further, accounting for humidity has important implications for evaluating these distributional effects.

Keywords: Climate change; Humidity; Mortality; Temperature.