Temperature, Productivity, and Adaptation: Evidence From Survey Data Production

Melissa LoPalo , University of Texas at Austin

Global average temperatures are forecast to rise significantly over the next century, but availability of data on the activities of workers in developing countries needed to understand productivity impacts is rare. This paper uses household survey data to evaluate the productivity impacts of extreme temperature. The paper’s innovation is that it studies the response of the interviewer, rather than the respondent, to weather on the day of interview. Using data from 46 countries, I find that interviews completed per hour decline on the hottest and most humid days. I find evidence that interviewers’ productivity decreases more on tasks that are less easily observed by their supervisors and that they complete more interviews in the cooler parts of the day at the expense of working more hours in the field. These findings suggest that certain types of short-term adaptation may exacerbate, rather than alleviate, the productivity consequences of climate change.

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 Presented in Session 3. Population, Development, & the Environment; Data & Methods; Applied Demography