Population and Environment

Tse-Chuan Yang* and Leif Jensen


Previous research on climatic conditions and human mortality in the United States has three gaps: largely ignoring social conditions, lack of nationwide focus, and overlooking potential spatial variations. Our goal is to understand whether climatic conditions contribute to mortality after considering social conditions and to investigate whether spatial non-stationarity exists in these factors. Applying geographically weighted regression to a unique nationwide county-level dataset, we found that (1) net of other factors, average July temperatures are positively (detrimentally) associated with mortality, while January temperatures mainly have a curvilinear relationship, (2) the mortality-climatic condition associations are spatially non-stationary, (3) the relationships between social conditions (e.g., social capital) and mortality are stable geographically, and (4) without a spatial approach to understanding the environment-mortality relationship, important spatial variations are overlooked. Our findings suggest that a universal approach to coping with the relationships between rapid climate changes and health may not be appropriate nor effective.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates and Staff