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Ambient Temperature and Food Behavior of Consumer: A Case Study of China

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  • 1 a School of Management and Economics, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, China
  • | 2 b Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, China
  • | 3 c Beijing Key Laboratory of Energy Economics and Environmental Management, Beijing, China
  • | 4 d Chengdu Library and Information Center, Chinese Academy of Science, Chengdu, China
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Abstract

Human behaviors are believed to be sensitive to environmental conditions. However, little is known about the role of temperature in individual daily behaviors. We examine the links between temperature and food intake using nearly one million purchasing records from China. The results show that a 1°C increase in temperature would cause a 0.11% decrease in food intake, which amounts to USD 4.2 million of daily food expenditures nationwide. Moreover, females appear to be more sensitive to the temperature in their food intake than males. In addition, we observe a U-shaped relationship between the temperature and the willingness to order a takeout online, and this observation is robust under multiple alternative estimations. Our results indicate that a higher temperature would reduce energy demand for body thermoregulation, resulting in less food intake. Both extreme high and low temperatures can cause disutility. Therefore, the consumers who still want to satisfy their needs for food intake feel compelled to alter their willingness to pay under the extreme temperature events. The quantitative analysis can provide helpful references for modeling the climate–consumer relationship in integrated assessment models. Thus, it is an interesting avenue for future research to bridge the climate and consumers to identify welfare loss and inequality due to climate change.

Significance Statement

The role of weather conditions in human behaviors is gaining popularity as extreme temperature occurs more frequently due to an ever-warming planet. Our study aims to understand which weather condition matters to consumer behaviors and how we could adapt to their impacts. We find that a 1°C increase in temperature would cause a 0.11% decrease in food intake, which amounts to USD 4.2 million of daily food expenditures nationwide. Temperature effect on food intake indicates that weather induced consumer behavior is a promising field of consumer research. More attention should be paid to the role of climate change in the consumer side.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Hua Liao, hliao@bit.edu.cn or liaohua55@163.com

Abstract

Human behaviors are believed to be sensitive to environmental conditions. However, little is known about the role of temperature in individual daily behaviors. We examine the links between temperature and food intake using nearly one million purchasing records from China. The results show that a 1°C increase in temperature would cause a 0.11% decrease in food intake, which amounts to USD 4.2 million of daily food expenditures nationwide. Moreover, females appear to be more sensitive to the temperature in their food intake than males. In addition, we observe a U-shaped relationship between the temperature and the willingness to order a takeout online, and this observation is robust under multiple alternative estimations. Our results indicate that a higher temperature would reduce energy demand for body thermoregulation, resulting in less food intake. Both extreme high and low temperatures can cause disutility. Therefore, the consumers who still want to satisfy their needs for food intake feel compelled to alter their willingness to pay under the extreme temperature events. The quantitative analysis can provide helpful references for modeling the climate–consumer relationship in integrated assessment models. Thus, it is an interesting avenue for future research to bridge the climate and consumers to identify welfare loss and inequality due to climate change.

Significance Statement

The role of weather conditions in human behaviors is gaining popularity as extreme temperature occurs more frequently due to an ever-warming planet. Our study aims to understand which weather condition matters to consumer behaviors and how we could adapt to their impacts. We find that a 1°C increase in temperature would cause a 0.11% decrease in food intake, which amounts to USD 4.2 million of daily food expenditures nationwide. Temperature effect on food intake indicates that weather induced consumer behavior is a promising field of consumer research. More attention should be paid to the role of climate change in the consumer side.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Hua Liao, hliao@bit.edu.cn or liaohua55@163.com
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