Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Krugman Proves Global Warming is a Good Thing

In the first half of a blog post that deteriorates in quality the longer it gets, Paul Krugman steps up to prove thathe actually knows something about economic geography. As a byproduct, though I doubt he realizes it, he shows that global warming would generally viewed as a favorable thing.
 Branko Milanovic notes Lee Kwan Yew’s explanation of the success of Singapore and other Asian economies; partly Confucian culture, partly air conditioning. If you’ve ever tried to walk around Singapore, you know whereof he speaks.

The same factor plays a major role in explaining differential US regional growth, and thereby hangs a tale.

The rise of the US sunbelt can be understood largely as a response to the emergence of widespread air conditioning, which made places that are warm in the winter attractive despite humid, muggy summers. It’s a gradual, long-drawn-out response, because location decisions have a lot of inertia; few people would choose de novo to live in the old industrial towns of upstate New York, but the existing housing stock and the fact that people have family and social networks prevent quick abandonment. So to this day temperature is a good predictor of state population growth. I’ve taken the NOAA data and divided states into three groups by average temperature: Group I is colder than Rhode Island, Group III warmer than California:

Who’s in Group III? The full list:

South Carolina

These are places where summer would be really oppressive without air conditioning.

Yes, surprise, surprise, since the emergence of widespread air conditioning people prefer warmer climates over cold.


1 comment:

  1. Crazy how population growth is so closely related to warmer temperatures. Those people must have good AC units to like living in that much heat. But, I guess a lot of it does have to do with older people moving to warmer climates. Living in the extreme can be pretty intense, but as long as you can keep your house cools with an AC unit, you are fine.