Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Temperature Shocks and Economic Growth: Comment on Dell, Jones, and Olken

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Abstract

Attempts to measure the effect of higher temperatures on economic growth began with work by Melissa Dell, Benjamin Jones, and Benjamin Olken published in the American Economic Review in 2009 and the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics in 2012. There are problems with their research, however. Each of the following five statements is true as a single, standalone criticism or robustness check: (1) They use an untenable method of classifying countries by income; using more reasonable methods I find that their results disappear. (2) Their results are influenced by arbitrary methodological choices. (3) Their results are influenced by a small number of observations with unusual characteristics. (4) The inclusion of additional countries and more recent data weakens their results. (5) Alternative data does not support their hypothesis that high temperatures reduce economic growth. Their study is faulty and the results are not robust.