Health Impacts of Climate Change as Contained in Economic Models Estimating the Social Cost of Carbon Dioxide

Kevin Cromar, Peter Howard, Váleri N. Vásquez, David Anthoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The health impacts of climate change are substantial and represent a primary motivating factor to mitigate climate change. However, the health impacts in economic models that estimate the social cost of carbon dioxide (SC-CO2) have generally been made in isolation from health experts and have never been rigorously evaluated. Version 3.10 of the Framework for Uncertainty, Negotiation and Distribution (FUND) model was used to estimate the health-based portion of current SC-CO2 estimates across low-, middle-, and high-income regions. In addition to the base model, three additional experiments assessed the sensitivity of these estimates to changes in the socio-economic assumptions in the model. Economic impacts from adverse health outcomes represent ∼8.7% of current SC-CO2 estimates. The majority of these health impacts (74%) were attributable to diarrhea mortality (from both low- and high-income regions) followed by diarrhea morbidity (12%) and malaria mortality (11%); no other health impact makes a meaningful contribution to SC-CO2 estimates in current economic models. The results of the socio-economic experiments show that the health-based portion of SC-CO2 estimates are highly sensitive to assumptions regarding income elasticity of health effects, income growth, and use of equity weights. Improving the health-based portion of SC-CO2 estimates could have substantial impacts on magnitude of the SC-CO2. Incorporating additional health impacts not previously included in estimates of SC-CO2 will be a critical component of model updates. This effort will be most successful through coordination between economists and health researchers and should focus on updating the form and function of concentration-response functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021GH000405
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Epidemiology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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