Climate change–related heat stress and subjective well-being in Australia

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There is mounting evidence that climate change impacts compromise people’s well-being. Many regions of Australia have experienced record hot temperatures and more frequent and longer heat waves with substantial consequences for people, economies, and ecosystems. Using data from an Australia-wide online survey with 1101 respondents, we investigated the relationship between self-reported measures of heat stress and different dimensions of subjective well-being. After controlling for socioeconomic factors known to affect well-being, we found that heat stress was linked to people’s certainty about and planning for their future but not to their life satisfaction, happiness, social state, capabilities, or purpose in life. This result indicates that, while heat is not associated with present well-being, many people worry about the effect that increased heat will have on their future well-being. People who were uncertain about their future were also more likely than those who did not feel uncertain to think that heat compromised their productivity. People who agreed that they were competent and capable in their activities rated their heat stress–related productivity loss lower than those who disagreed. The findings are relevant for future studies using life-satisfaction approaches to assess consequences of climate change impacts and to studies in ‘‘happiness economics.’’ We recommend that future research on the impact of climate change on well-being go beyond simply life satisfaction and happiness and test multiple dimensions of well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-520
Number of pages16
JournalWeather, Climate, and Society
Issue number3
Early online date21 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


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