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Adaptation to Human Heat Stress: The Role of Labor Migration, Economic Responses, and Land Use Changes

Presentation Date
Thursday, December 16, 2021 at 10:55am
Online Only



The fact that “heatwaves have increased in intensity, frequency, and duration” raises significant concerns about the likely impacts on human health and people’s capacity to work outdoors in the future. While recent studies discuss the economic costs of human heat stress, these emerging studies tend to ignore socioeconomic adaptations. Also, most of the economic studies assume highly aggregated labor markets which abstract from the regional specificities that govern local labor supply and demand.


This study employs previous estimations of the impact of global warming on labor capacity using these to draw out the implications of labor capacity loss for labor migration, land use change, and water resource scarcity. This is done using a novel gridded model of labor, land use, water, and environment within a global multi-sector economic framework with two million grid cells. The model considers adaptation solutions at local, regional, and global scales. This includes automation of physically demanding activities, labor migration, changing production location, domestic and international trade, and changes in patterns of consumption as well as national economies’ sectoral structure. The core data base is an integration of economic information from GTAP (Global Trade Analysis Project) with SIMPLE-g (a Simplified International Model of agricultural Prices, Land use, and the Environment- gridded) with a multi-scale representation of labor supply and demand. Labor heat stress is based on the estimation of Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) under future climate. This an international standard for workplace heat stress. The analysis translates human heat stress into economic productivity loss for different labor types and across economic sectors considering the required exertion as well as exposure to sunlight.


The gridded parameterization and proposed methods can be used in a wide range of climate impact studies related to the labor market. The results will illustrate the significance of migration in adaptation to future heat stress and its implications for land and water resources.

Global Environmental Change
Funding Program Area(s)