The GDP-Temperature relationship: Implications for climate change damages
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Econometric models of temperature impacts on GDP are increasingly used to inform global warming damage assessments. But theory does not prescribe estimable forms of this relationship. By estimating 800 plausible specifications of the temperature-GDP relationship, we demonstrate that a wide variety of models are statistically indistinguishable in their out-of-sample performance, including models that exclude any temperature effect. This full set of models, however, implies a wide range of climate change impacts by 2100, yielding considerable model uncertainty. The uncertainty is greatest for models that specify effects of temperature on GDP growth that accumulate over time; the 95% confidence interval that accounts for both sampling and model uncertainty across the best-performing models ranges from 84% GDP losses to 359% gains. Models of GDP levels effects yield a much narrower distribution of GDP impacts centered around 1–3% losses, consistent with damage functions of major integrated assessment models. Further, models that incorporate lagged temperature effects are indicative of impacts on GDP levels rather than GDP growth. We identify statistically significant marginal effects of temperature on poor country GDP and agricultural production, but not rich country GDP, non-agricultural production, or GDP growth.
Published Version (Please cite this version)
Newell, RG, BC Prest and SE Sexton (2021). The GDP-Temperature relationship: Implications for climate change damages. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 108. pp. 102445–102445. 10.1016/j.jeem.2021.102445 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/25671.
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Dr. Richard G. Newell is the President and CEO of Resources for the Future (RFF), an independent, nonprofit research institution that improves environmental, energy, and natural resource decisions through impartial economic research and policy engagement. From 2009 to 2011, he served as the administrator of the US Energy Information Administration, the agency responsible for official US government energy statistics and analysis. Dr. Newell is an adjunct professor at Duke University, where he was previously the Gendell Professor of Energy and Environmental Economics and founding director of its Energy Initiative and Energy Data Analytics Lab. He has also served as the senior economist for energy and environment on the President's Council of Economic Advisers and was a senior fellow, and later a board member, at RFF.
Dr. Newell has published widely on the economics of markets and policies for energy and the environment, including issues surrounding global climate change, energy efficiency, and energy innovation. He is a member of the National Petroleum Council and has provided expert advice to many institutions, such as the National Academy of Sciences, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the International Energy Forum.
Dr. Newell holds a PhD from Harvard University, an MPA from Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and a BS and BA from Rutgers University.
Specialties: Energy and environmental economics, markets, policies, and technologies.
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