NPR logo Does Hot Weather Hurt The Economy?

Does Hot Weather Hurt The Economy?

My Climate is Better Than Yours. From "Principles of Human Geography", 1922 hide caption

toggle caption From "Principles of Human Geography", 1922

This morning we aired a story about new research by economists at MIT indicating that poor countries take a hit to their GDP in years where the average temperature is higher than normal.

The results are surprising in part because this is an idea that seemed too simple to be true. It dates back hundreds of years as a possible explanation for why hot countries tend to be poorer than those in cooler climates.

Above is an excerpt from the 1922 book "Principles of Human Geography" which I don't think would hold up to modern scientific standards. It's kind of a grand-unified-theory of how climate dictates everything.

"In an invigorating climate it is also easier to be honest and sober and self-controlled than in a more enervating one."

The research by Ben Olken and colleagues doesn't claim that climate is all important. But they do find hot years seem to impact the economic growth of poor countries.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.