The mortality effects of winter heating prices

Janjala Chirakijja, Seema Jayachandran, Pinchuan Ong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This paper examines how the price of home heating affects mortality in the United States. Exposure to cold is one reason that mortality peaks in winter, and a higher heating price increases exposure to cold by reducing heating use. Our empirical approach combines spatial variation in the energy source used for home heating and temporal variation in the national prices of natural gas and electricity. We find that a lower heating price reduces winter mortality, driven mostly by cardiovascular and respiratory causes. Our estimates imply that the 42% drop in the natural gas price in the late 2000s, mostly driven by the shale gas boom, averted 12,500 deaths per year in the United States. The effect appears to be especially large in high-poverty communities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalThe Economic Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • home heating
  • winter mortality
  • fuel poverty
  • shale gas
  • gas price
  • Electricity price
  • Fracking

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