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Chen Zhang, Hua Liao, Fang-Zhi Wang, and Ru Li

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.

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