Temperature and Economic Development

There are many factors that have an impact on the development of the country’s economy, such as human resources, natural resources, technological development, social and political factors and etc. Some factors do have a direct impact on economic development, while some others may have an indirect effect like geographic proximity, culture or historical path. I would like to discuss the climate differences that have a significant impact on almost a great majority of countries.

In this sense, my argument is that, if we have a look to the correlation between temperature and economic development of many countries, where we can explicitly see that the significant majority of countries which have a relatively low-temperature degree are mainly developed countries than those which are relatively high. In other words, when the average annual temperature decreases, the level of economic development rises. In the graph below, it is possible to see that most of the countries which have a higher Human Development Index (HDI) (prepared by the United Nations in 2018) are relatively cold countries. 

Table: Human Development Index (UNDP, 2018).

HDI is one of the widely used indicators of economic development, which is capturing human progress, combining information on people’s health, education, and income in just one indicator.

There is no unique explanation for this correlation; it has many subjective or objective interpretations for sure. Rather, I have my own subjective approaches for this interesting nexus. First, in relatively hot countries, people wear short clothes and everyday walk with slippers, so they do not care about clothes or equipment that may keep them warm. Since this situation is much more different for the inhabitants of cold countries. I mean, they have to prepare for winter, and for this reason, people need warm clothes and they have to make their homes resistant for cold climate. For solving such problems, the population in these countries are more prone to invent or create a warm environment for themselves. Therefore, I may say that the industrial revolution started from the cold countries, which is an outcome of survival need.

Secondly, I want to stress the importance of “education” which refers to the development of human capital, studying and knowledgeable labor force, which plays a major role in country’s economy as a crucial factor for the sustainable development. To glance through a link between academic achievement level and temperature, it is obvious that countries with hot climate have lower educational performance in this platform, where this situation can lead to negative long-term consequences, namely it may affect student’s future academic success or career plans. More broadly, hot weather has both indirect and direct effects on the studying level of children through psychology, cognitive abilities, memory, and decision-making. In extremely hot conditions, it is quite hard for school learners to concentrate on subjects and to stay focused during lessons, where they can be easily distracted. Additionally, heat exposure causes the reducing of student’s decision-making abilities when they are in difficult tasks or exams. To explain the impacts of heat in the decision-making, researchers Amar Cheema and Vanessa Patrick put healthy adults in two separate rooms, and they were asked to take the most beneficial cell phone plan when they have given two choices. Adults in the cooler room picked the correct plan ½ of time, but the adults in the warmer room picked the right plan only 1/4 of the time. According to another study conducted by an undergrad at Loyola University, found that air temperature has an impact on memory. By employing a computer-generated memory test, 52 students randomly attended in memory tests in various temperature rooms. The investigation used 72, 80 and 64 degrees F for room temperatures. The result exerted that in the environment with temperatures of 80 or 64 degrees, memory was impacted negatively. The result of test score was remarkably higher in the room where the temperature was 72 F.

In order to show it in more detailed, the study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, assessed test scores from 10 million high school students who took the PSAT exam multiple times, between 2001 and 2014, individual test-taker scores declined in years when higher temperatures were recorded. On the other side of coin, in cold countries, the level of academic achievement is much higher. In my opinion, cold weather makes students much smarter, productive, therefore in cold weather, decision-making skills experienced to be sharper. A new study conducted by researchers from Stanford, Ben-Gurion, and Bar-Ilan universities found that cold weather helps the improvement of cognitive skills.

As a result, having seen both direct and indirect effects of temperature on economy, we can simply say that the rising of temperature causes the decreasing economic development. By inhibiting the development of cognitive abilities, heat exposure leads to the lack of energy, lower exam results, losing memory on the students. Therefore, hot weather conditions minimize studying skills and education, which are one of the major catalysts for the economic development in a country.


1.      Heat and Learning (Joshua GoodmanMichael HurwitzJisung ParkJonathan Smith) Link- https://www.nber.org/papers/w24639
2.  How Temperature Affects Our Decision Making Abilities Link-
3. Do Classroom Temperatures Affect A Student’s Ability To Learn? Linkhttps://www.screenflex.com/classroom-temperatures-affect-students/       
4. Does cold weather make you smarter? Linkhttps://www.fromthegrapevine.com/health/cold-weather-may-help-you-make-better-decisions 
5. Human Development Index (HDI) (prepared by United Nations in 2018).

29 thoughts on “Temperature and Economic Development

  1. You are right for many cases. Indeed there are some small exceptions like; Singapure, Australia and Russia. But you have quite original and strong supportive idas which I liked most. Nice job!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I agree with Pete, go to England for your preferred weather…However an interesting post but cold can have an adverse effect and I tend to think it is much of what happens in a child’s formative years which helps determine their love for study…If games and the like are done against the clock it does increase reflexes we have seen that in simple games with our granddaughter, she loves puzzles and loves to know how quickly she can complete a puzzle we set a timer. Now she in school she applies the same to her school work she gets her head down and focuses her results are very good. Thank you for the follow 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting post. I think that many things suffer in the extremes of climates. However, countries with extremely cold areas like US, Canada, Russia etc have developed high insulating mechanisms for keeping themselves warm in extreme cold.
    On the other hand, countries like UAE have big Air cooling systems, but for manual labor, one has to toil in extreme heat which can be counter productive.
    Yet there are other factors. Somehow I feel that most Asians have a tendency not to got for personal excellence(things are changing though), but western folks are more towards Individual perfection.
    The attitudes do impact results.
    So people who live in Air conditioning for the whole year in hot places are no more productive than labours, plumbers, electricians toiling in high heat and humidity.

    Liked by 1 person

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