Journal Article

Extreme temperatures and morbidity in old age in Europe

Zanasi, F., Conte Keivabu, R.
Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, 1–28 (2024)
Open Access


Understanding the relationship between extreme temperatures and health among older adults is of paramount importance for public health in ageing societies. This study aims to enhance our understanding of the impact of extreme temperatures on
morbidity, i.e. the risk of being hospitalised, using medications for heart conditions, and experiencing the onset of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) among older adults in Europe (65 years old) using five waves from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE, 2004–2015). It also explores heterogeneity in this impact depending on an array of factors that affect exposure and vulnerability to climate, including geographical location, gender, age, educational level, having a partner/child and living in an urban or a rural area. Results from individual fixed-effects models show that extremely cold tempe-
ratures increase the risk of being hospitalised and suffering from CVDs, while heat exposure has no noteworthy effect. Broken down by geographical location, the results indicate that one additional extremely cold day influences the risk of hospitalisation in the coldest and the warmest European regions, while extreme heat influences this risk in the warmest European regions. Finally, the oldest old and low educated individuals appear to be the most vulnerable social groups. The study concludes by discussing the advantages and the limitations of using survey data to study climate and health, and the strategies suggested by the relevant
literature to prevent temperature-related illness.

Keywords: Europe
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.