A fascinating article recently appearing in the Economist discusses the wide-ranging effects of air conditioning on society. Economically, it has long been known that cooler air leads to sharp increases in productivity. Indeed, one study showed that workers in the coolest parts of the world are 12 times more productive than their counterparts in the hottest parts of the world. Despite the fact that relatively few people work in temperatures at either extreme, and despite the fact that air conditioning has spread widely even in poor, hot countries, further penetration into those same, often heavily populated countries, is sure to lead to further increases in productivity and wealth.
Cooled interiors have had an impact in on politics, too. One academic argues that the ability of retired Americans to migrate to the warm, southern states is part of the reason that the Republicans were able to claim what had long been a Democratic stronghold, and now forms the geographic base of the GOP.
To read about air conditioning's effect on human health, the environment, architectural design and much else, the article can be found here.
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