Before the invention of air conditioning in 1902, workers functioned on a more seasonal schedule in the United States. Summers in the South were too hot to work outside. Even the government in Washington D.C. would shut down for 6 to 8 weeks in the summer in order to avoid the stifling heat that was involved with being inside during the hot months. Industry came to an essential stand still. The invention of air conditioning and its utilization in homes and offices completely changed the face of the United States and bolstered its economy.
Termed a heat penalty, many developing and underdeveloped countries face what the United States went through 100 years ago. Not having access to air conditioning in underdeveloped countries slows economic growth and drastically increases the chance of heat related illness. That’s the penalty. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can come on quickly and aggressively when temperatures reach 90 to 100 degrees and nights stay above 70 degrees. The body is incapable of cooling effectively and gets no respite in that range. The young and old are exceptionally susceptible.
When heat rises, developing countries run to buy air conditioning units in an attempt to keep up with the economic growth and output of developed countries. Recent studies suggest that keeping temperatures cooler at work, whether office work or industrial, increase productivity. There is an effective range to work in according to studies analyzed by Finnish Researchers and the U.S. Department of Energy. Workers prefer it cool but once temperatures get around or below 73 to 75 degrees, worker productivity began to decrease again. There is a happy climate controlled medium that promotes productivity and increased decision making. This allows developed countries like the United States to have an economic edge over countries that have less control over their personal surroundings.