Category Archives: Published

Adapting to Climate Change: The Remarkable Decline in the U.S. Temperature-Mortality Relationship over the 20th Century

TITLE
Adapting to Climate Change: The Remarkable Decline in the U.S. Temperature-Mortality Relationship over the 20th Century

AUTHORS
Barreca, Alan, Karen Clay, Olivier Deschenes, Michael Greenstone, & Joseph S. Shapiro

STATUS
Journal of Political Economy | 2016 | 124(1): 105-159

LINKS

ABSTRACT
Adaptation is the only strategy that is guaranteed to be part of the world’s climate strategy. Using the most comprehensive set of data files ever compiled on mortality and its determinants over the course of the 20th century, this paper makes two primary discoveries. First, we find that the mortality effect of an extremely hot day declined by about 80% between 1900-1959 and 1960-2004. As a consequence, days with temperatures exceeding 90°F were responsible for about 600 premature fatalities annually in the 1960-2004 period, compared to the approximately 3,600 premature fatalities that would have occurred if the temperature-mortality relationship from before 1960 still prevailed. Second, the adoption of residential air conditioning (AC) explains essentially the entire decline in the temperature-mortality relationship. In contrast, increased access to electricity and health care seem not to affect mortality on extremely hot days. Residential AC appears to be both the most promising technology to help poor countries mitigate the temperature related mortality impacts of climate change and, because fossil fuels are the least expensive source of energy, a technology whose proliferation will speed up the rate of climate change.

Success is Something to Sneeze At: Influenza Mortality in Cities that Participate in the Super Bowl

TITLE
Success is Something to Sneeze At: Influenza Mortality in Cities that Participate in the Super Bowl

AUTHORS
Stoecker, Charles, Nicholas Sanders, & Alan Barreca

STATUS
American Journal of Health Economics | 2016 | 2(1): 125–143

LINKS

ABSTRACT
Using county-level Vital Statistics of the United States data from 1974-2009, we employ a differences- in-differences framework comparing influenza mortality rates in Super Bowl-participating counties to non-participants. Having a local team in the Super Bowl causes an 18% increase in influenza deaths for the population over age 65, with evidence suggesting one mechanism is increased local socialization. Effects are most pronounced in years when the dominant influenza strain is more virulent, or when the Super Bowl occurs closer to the peak of influenza season. Mitigating influenza transmission at gatherings related to large spectator events could have substantial returns for public health.

Convergence in Adaptation to Climate Change: Evidence from High Temperatures and Mortality, 1900-2004

TITLE
Convergence in Adaptation to Climate Change: Evidence from High Temperatures and Mortality, 1900-2004

AUTHORS
Barreca, Alan, Karen Clay, Olivier Deschenes, Michael Greenstone, & Joseph S. Shapiro

STATUS
American Economic Review Papers & Proceedings | 2015 | 105(5): 247-51

LINK

ABSTRACT
This paper combines panel data on monthly mortality rates of US states and daily temperature variables for over a century (1900-2004) to explore the regional evolution of the temperature-mortality relationship and documents two key findings. First, the impact of extreme heat on mortality is notably smaller in states that more frequently experience extreme heat. Second, the difference in the heat-mortality relationship between hot and cold states declined over 1900-2004, though it persisted through 2004. Continuing differences in the mortality consequences of hot days suggests that health motivated adaptation to climate change may be slow and costly around the world.

Heaping-Induced Bias in Regression Discontinuity Designs

Title
Heaping-Induced Bias in Regression Discontinuity Designs

AUTHORS
Barreca, Alan, Jason Lindo, & Glen Waddell

STATUS
Economic Inquiry | 2016 | 54(1): 268–293

LINK

ABSTRACT
This study uses Monte Carlo simulations to demonstrate that regression-discontinuity designs arrive at biased estimates when attributes related to outcomes predict heaping in the running variable. After showing that our usual diagnostics are poorly suited to identifying this type of problem, we provide alternatives. We also demonstrate how the magnitude and direction of the bias varies with bandwidth choice and the location of the data heaps relative to the treatment threshold. Finally, we discuss approaches to correcting for this type of problem before considering these issues in several non-simulated environments.

A Pint for a Pound? Minimum Drinking Age Laws and Birth Outcomes

TITLE
A Pint for a Pound? Minimum Drinking Age Laws and Birth Outcomes

AUTHORS
Barreca, Alan, & Marianne Page

STATUS
Health Economics | 2015 | 24(4): 400-418

LINK

ABSTRACT
Minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) laws are known to reduce alcohol consumption among young adults. One additional benefit of higher MLDAs may be that they improve health outcomes among infants born to young mothers. We estimate the impact of MLDAs on infant health in the USA by comparing birth outcomes among 14–20 year old mothers who were exposed to different MLDAs because of when and where they gave birth. Infants born to mothers who were between the ages of 21 and 24 years are included as a control group. We find that low MLDAs are associated with very small birth weight reductions, but have a little relationship with other traditional measures of infant health. We find compelling evidence, however, that a low MLDA increases the probability of a female birth, which suggests that restricting alcohol access to young mothers may reduce fetal deaths.

Agricultural Policy, Migration, and Malaria in the United States in the 1930s

TITLE
Agricultural Policy, Migration, and Malaria in the United States in the 1930s

AUTHORS
Barreca, Alan, Price Fishback, & Shawn Kantor

STATUS
Explorations in Economic History | 2012 | 49(4): 381-398

LINK

ABSTRACT
The Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) was associated with a population shift in the United States in the 1930s. Evaluating the relationship between the AAA and the incidence of malaria can therefore offer important lessons regarding the broader consequences of demographic changes. Using a quasi-first difference model and a robust set of controls, we find a negative association between AAA expenditures and malaria death rates at the county level. Further, we find that the AAA was associated with increased out-migration of low-income groups from counties with high-risk malaria ecologies. These results suggest that the AAA-induced migration played an important role in the reduction of malaria.

Absolute Humidity, Temperature, and Influenza Mortality: 30 Years of County-Level Evidence from the United States

TITLE
Absolute Humidity, Temperature, and Influenza Mortality: 30 Years of County-Level Evidence from the United States

AUTHORS
Barreca, Alan, & Jay Shimshack

STATUS
American Journal of Epidemiology | 2012 | 176: S114-S122.

LINK

ABSTRACT
Recent research exploring associations between environmental factors and influenza outcomes has devoted substantial attention to the role of absolute humidity. However, the existing literature provides very little quantitative epidemiologic evidence on the relations between absolute humidity and other weather variables and influenza outcomes in human populations. In the present study, the authors helped fill this gap by analyzing longitudinal weather and influenza mortality data, observed every month between January 1973 and December 2002, for each of 359 urban US counties. A flexible regression model was used to simultaneously explore fully nonlinear relations between absolute humidity and influenza outcomes and temperature and influenza outcomes. Results indicated that absolute humidity was an especially critical determinant of observed human influenza mortality, even after controlling for temperature. There were important nonlinear relations; humidity levels below approximately 6 g of water vapor per kilogram of air were associated with increases in influenza mortality. Model predictions suggested that approximately half of the average seasonal differences in US influenza mortality can be explained by seasonal differences in absolute humidity alone. Temperature modestly influenced influenza mortality as well, although results were less robust.

Climate Change, Humidity, and Mortality in the United States

TITLE
Climate Change, Humidity, and Mortality in the United States

AUTHOR
Barreca, Alan

STATUS
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management | 2012 | 63(1): 19-34.

LINK

ABSTRACT
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.

Saving Babies? Revisiting the Effect of Very Low Birth Weight Classification

TITLE
Saving Babies? Revisiting the Effect of Very Low Birth Weight Classification

AUTHORS
Barreca, Alan, Melanie Guldi, Jason Lindo, & Glen Waddell

STATUS
Quarterly Journal of Economics | 2011 | 126(4): 2117-2123

LINK

ABSTRACT
We reconsider the effect of very low birth weight classification on infant mortality. We demonstrate that the estimates are highly sensitive to the exclusion of observations in the immediate vicinity of the 1,500-g threshold, weakening the confidence in the results originally reported in Almond, Doyle, Kowalski, and Williams (2010).

The Long-Term Economic Impact of In Utero and Postnatal Exposure to Malaria

TITLE
The Long-Term Economic Impact of In Utero and Postnatal Exposure to Malaria

AUTHOR
Barreca, Alan

STATUS
Journal of Human Resources | 2010 | 45(4): 865-892

LINK

ABSTRACT
I use an instrumental-variables identification strategy and historical data from the United States to estimate the long-term economic impact of in utero and postnatal exposure to malaria. My research design matches adults in the 1960 Decennial Census to the malaria death rate in their respective state and year of birth. To address potential omitted-variables bias and measurement-error bias, I use variation in “malaria-ideal” temperatures to instrument for malaria exposure. My estimates indicate that in utero and postnatal exposure to malaria led to considerably lower levels of educational attainment and higher rates of poverty later in life.