Some like it hot... but not too hot

This paper has been in the works for some time now. Its innovative and important, with very pretty graphs!

Climate Amenities, Climate Change, and American Quality of Life
David Albouy, Walter Graf, Ryan Kellogg, and Hendrik Wolff

The chemistry of the human body makes our health and comfort sensitive to climate.Every day, climate influences human activity, including diet, chores, recreation,and conversation. Geographically, climate impacts the desirability of differentlocations and the quality of life they offer; few seek to live in the freezing tundraor oppressively hot deserts. This paper estimates the dollar value American householdsplace on climate amenities, including sunshine, precipitation, humidity, and especiallytemperature. Valuing climate amenities not only helps us to understand how climateaffects welfare and where people live, but also helps to inform policy responses to climate changes. 
Using a quality of life measure that is carefully constructed from local wage andhousing price differentials, the authors find that Americans favor an average dailytemperature of 65 degrees, tend to dislike marginal increases in heat more thanmarginal increases in cold, and care less about marginal changes in outdoor temperatureonce the temperature is sufficiently uncomfortable that they are unlikely to gooutside. These preferences vary by location, reflecting people's preferences for warmer or colder climates. Changes in climate amenities under business-as-usual climate change predictions imply annual welfare losses of 1 to 3 percent of incomeby 2100, holding technology and preferences constant.


Some of my best friends are only-children

Little Emperors: Behavioral Impacts of China’s One-Child Policy
L. Cameron, N. Erkal, L. Gangadharan, X. Meng
We document that China’s One-Child Policy (OCP), one of the most radical approaches to limiting population growth, has produced significantly less trusting, less trustworthy, more risk-averse, less competitive, more pessimistic, and less conscientious individuals. Our data were collected from economics experiments conducted with 421 individuals born just before and just after the OCP’s introduction in 1979. Surveys to elicit personality traits were also used. We used the exogenous imposition of the OCP to identify the causal impact of being an only child, net of family background effects. The OCP thus has significant ramifications for Chinese society.
Click to enlarge

Maybe my favorite aspect of the study is not the content but the design: analyzing cohort effects using [a battery of] lab experiments.


How stark is the reversal in global temperature trend?

Last week I put a link to the recent Marcott et al. Science paper reconstructing Holocene temperatures in the weekend links. I've since taught it to both my graduate econometrics class (as a motivating example for statistical inference) and to an undergraduate research methods class (as part of a larger lecture on environment and development economics), and after mulling it over for a while think that the core message of the paper is actually fairly subtle.


What is "drought" anyway?

I like the approach of linking reduced-form empirical results to detail process-based simulation models to get at underlying mechanisms:

The critical role of extreme heat for maize production in the United States
David B. Lobell, Graeme L. Hammer, Greg McLean, Carlos Messina, Michael J. Roberts & Wolfram Schlenker
Statistical studies of rainfed maize yields in the United States1 and elsewhere2 have indicated two clear features: a strong negative yield response to accumulation of temperatures above 30 °C (or extreme degree days (EDD)), and a relatively weak response to seasonal rainfall. Here we show that the process-based Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) is able to reproduce both of these relationships in the Midwestern United States and provide insight into underlying mechanisms. The predominant effects of EDD in APSIM are associated with increased vapour pressure deficit, which contributes to water stress in two ways: by increasing demand for soil water to sustain a given rate of carbon assimilation, and by reducing future supply of soil water by raising transpiration rates. APSIM computes daily water stress as the ratio of water supply to demand, and during the critical month of July this ratio is three times more responsive to 2 °C warming than to a 20% precipitation reduction. The results suggest a relatively minor role for direct heat stress on reproductive organs at present temperatures in this region. Effects of elevated CO2 on transpiration efficiency should reduce yield sensitivity to EDD in the coming decades, but at most by 25%.
See David Lobell's explanation at G-FEED.


Now on Stata-bloggers...

Francis Smart has set up Stata-bloggers, a new blog aggregator for Stata users (modeled after R-bloggers). FE will be contributing there, but there's lots of other goodies worth checking out from more prolific bloggers.

Everyone say "Thank you, Francis."


This Weekend: Pacific Conference for Development Economics 2013

If you're in the Bay Area this weekend the Pacific Conference for Development Economics (PAC-DEV) will be taking place on Saturday at San Francisco State University. The website and schedule are here. Among many great looking talks are the following which might be of particular interest to FE readers:

  • "Conditional Cash Transfers and Civil Conflict: Experimental Evidence from the Philippines"- Benjamin Crost (CU Denver)
  • "Colonial Investments and Long-Term Development in Africa: Evidence from Ghanaian Railroads" - Alexander Moradi (Sussex)
  • "Flood-tolerant rice expected to decrease yield variability, especially for socially disadvantaged groups in India" - Kyle Emerick (UC Berkeley)
  • "The Effectiveness of Environmental Alerts: Evidence from Santiago, Chile" - Jamie Mullins (UCSD)
  • "Heat Waves at Conception and Later Life Outcomes" - Joshua Wilde (South Florida)
  • "Farmer Crop Choice and Short-Run Weather Expectations" - Benjamin Miller (UCSD)
  • "Ethnic Favoritism" - Edward Miguel (UC Berkeley)
  • "The Impact of Microinsurance on Asset Accumulation and Human Capital Investments: Evidence from a Drought in Kenya" - Sarah Janzen (UC Davis)

I'll be presenting the condensed version of Sol and my Filipino typhoons paper, in the disasters session at end of day, and chairing the Politics and Outcomes session immediately before. Drop by and say hi if you're around.