DP14851 Temperature, Disease, and Death in London: Analyzing Weekly Data for the Century from 1866-1965

Author(s): William Walker Hanlon, Casper Worm Hansen, Jake Kantor
Publication Date: June 2020
JEL(s): I15, N3, Q54
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14851

Using weekly mortality data for London spanning 1866-1965, we analyze the changing relationship between temperature and mortality as the city developed. Our results show that both warm and cold weeks were associated with elevated mortality in the late 19th-century, but heat effects, due mainly to infant deaths from digestive diseases, largely disappeared after WWI. The resulting change in the temperature-mortality relationship meant that thousands of heat-related deathsâ??equal to 0.8-1.3 percent of all deathsâ??were averted. Our findings also indicate that a series of hot years in the 1890s substantially changed the timing of the infant mortality decline in London.