NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Aluma Dembo

Department of Economics
Manor Road Building
Oxford Nuffield College
New Road
Oxford, OX1 1NF
United Kingdom

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Institutional Affiliation: Oxford Nuffield College

NBER Working Papers and Publications

April 2019Destructive Behavior, Judgment, and Economic Decision-making under Thermal Stress
with Ingvild Almås, Maximilian Auffhammer, Tessa Bold, Ian Bolliger, Solomon M. Hsiang, Shuhei Kitamura, Edward Miguel, Robert Pickmans: w25785
Accumulating evidence indicates that environmental temperature substantially affects economic outcomes and violence, but the reasons for this linkage are not well understood. We systematically evaluate the effect of thermal stress on multiple dimensions of economic decisionmaking, judgment, and destructive behavior with 2,000 participants in Kenya and the US who were randomly assigned to different temperatures in a laboratory. We find that most dimensions of decision-making are unaffected by temperature. However, heat causes individuals to voluntarily destroy other participants’ assets, with more pronounced effects during a period of heightened political conflict in Kenya.
 
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