Are Temperature and Human Capital Compliments or Substitutes? Evidence from 1946

My own work has focused on whether economic productivity can be influence by temperature through its impact on worker productivity. I recently dug up "Effects of Heat on Wireless Telegraphy Operators Hearing and Recording Morse Messages" by N. H. Mackworth (British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 1946) and have decided its one of my favorite papers. The British military asked Norman Mackworth to put Morse code operators in rooms of varying temperature and humidity and recorded the number of errors they made. These guys were put to work in 3 hour stretches, decoding random sequences of letters and numbers for 5-7 weeks (see fig).  

The main result is stark.  The operators who were considered "exceptionally skilled" (based on their error rates at low temperatures) were hardly affected by the heat. But the less skilled operators had error rates that went through the roof when temperatures rose (see below). Apparently, moderate temperatures and human capital are substitutes (at least in this situation). This is good news for many of the hot, developing countries around the world...

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