NBER Publications by Melissa Dell

Contact and additional information for this authorAll papers and publicationsWorking Papers onlyWorking Papers with publication info

Working Papers and Chapters

October 2013What Do We Learn from the Weather? The New Climate-Economy Literature
with Benjamin F. Jones, Benjamin A. Olken: w19578
A rapidly growing body of research applies panel methods to examine how temperature, precipitation, and windstorms influence economic outcomes. These studies focus on changes in weather realizations over time within a given spatial area and demonstrate impacts on agricultural output, industrial output, labor productivity, energy demand, health, conflict, and economic growth among other outcomes. By harnessing exogenous variation over time within a given spatial unit, these studies help credibly identify (i) the breadth of channels linking weather and the economy, (ii) heterogeneous treatment effects across different types of locations, and (iii) non-linear effects of weather variables. This paper reviews the new literature with two purposes. First, we summarize recent work, providing a gui...
July 2009Productivity Differences Between and Within Countries
with Daron Acemoglu: w15155
We document substantial within-country (cross-municipality) differences in incomes for a large number of countries in the Americas. A significant fraction of the within-country differences cannot be explained by observed human capital. We conjecture that the sources of within-country and between-country differences are related. As a first step towards a united framework, we propose a simple model incorporating both differences in technological know-how across countries and differences in productive efficiency within countries.
January 2009Temperature and Income: Reconciling New Cross-Sectional and Panel Estimates
with Benjamin F. Jones, Benjamin A. Olken: w14680
This paper presents novel evidence and analysis of the relationship between temperature and income. First, using sub-national data from 12 countries in the Americas, we provide new evidence that the negative cross-country relationship between temperature and income also exists within countries and even within states. Second, we provide a theoretical framework for reconciling the substantial, negative association between temperature and income in the cross-section with the even stronger short-run effects of temperature estimated by panel models. The theoretical framework suggests that half of the negative short-term effects of temperature may be offset in the long run through adaptation.
June 2008Climate Change and Economic Growth: Evidence from the Last Half Century
with Benjamin F. Jones, Benjamin A. Olken: w14132
This paper uses annual variation in temperature and precipitation over the past 50 years to examine the impact of climatic changes on economic activity throughout the world. We find three primary results. First, higher temperatures substantially reduce economic growth in poor countries but have little effect in rich countries. Second, higher temperatures appear to reduce growth rates in poor countries, rather than just the level of output. Third, higher temperatures have wide-ranging effects in poor nations, reducing agricultural output, industrial output, and aggregate investment, and increasing political instability. Analysis of decade or longer climate shifts also shows substantial negative effects on growth in poor countries. Should future impacts of climate change mirror these histori...

Contact and additional information for this authorAll papers and publicationsWorking Papers onlyWorking Papers with publication info

NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us