Climate Change

Can high temperatures impact people’s ratings of their lives?

Middle and low-income countries recorded a significant decline in evaluations

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Friday 02 September 2022
The most significant decrease was marked in Turkey. Photo:

High temperatures can decrease people’s ‘life evaluation’ or ‘ratings of their lives’ by 17 per cent by 2030, noted a new study.

Global well-being has also declined by at least 6.5 per cent since 2008 due to rising temperatures, the study released August 31, 2022, further added.

The study is based on the data collected by Gallup, a research firm, over the past 14 years. The firm releases the annual Life Evaluation Index. The index measures how people worldwide rate their lives both now and in the future.

Gallup, in collaboration with finance company Citigroup, combined geospatial data from 1.75 million people from 160 countries with NASA’s daily high-resolution temperature data for the last 30 years.

Further analysis indicated that the increasing temperatures are linked to reduced quality of life. Rising temperatures will be linked to a three-times greater decline in life evaluation in 2030 than in 2020.

A person’s life appraisal decreases by an average of 0.56 per cent every time one experiences a hot day. Globally, people faced three times more high-temperature days in 2020 than in 2008 and life evaluation dropped by 6.5 per cent.

A decrease of 6.5 per cent is severe, considering that life evaluation has been relatively stable since Gallup started tracking it. As the number of above-normal temperature days continues to grow, life ratings will continue to drop, the analysis suggested.

The well-being of certain groups is more affected by rising temperatures than others. Individuals at 65 years old and above saw a 1.11 per cent decrease in their life evaluations compared to a 0.48 per cent drop for people younger than them.

Educational attainments also impact the link between high-temperature days and life evaluation ratings. The life evaluation dropped by 0.78 per cent for individuals with only primary education, while it dropped by 0.47 per cent for those with secondary schooling. The evaluation for those who received education through colleges and trade schools dropped by 0.38 per cent.

The 110 middle and low-income countries recorded a significant decline in evaluations. These countries, where Gallup conducts direct polling, recorded a 0.74 per cent decline in life evaluation.

The most significant decrease was marked in Turkey (1.78 per cent), followed by Mexico (1.24 per cent) and China (1.14 per cent).

The decreases in life evaluation point fingers at global crises like food insecurity, conflict and decline in mental health, the researchers added. This analysis is a crucial step towards a more complete and accurate view of the true impact of climate change on people’s lives.

Future research should explore human adaptation and recovery from rising temperatures, the study noted.

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