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Making Consumers Comfortable: The Early Decades of Air Conditioning in the United States

  • JEFF E. BIDDLE (a1)
Abstract

During the air conditioner industry's first four decades, most installations were “commercial comfort” air conditioning systems, purchased by retailers to increase demand for their products. Air conditioning spread unevenly through the commercial sector and across the country. Using data from a variety of sources, I offer a quantitative account of this diffusion, viewed through an interpretive framework that emphasizes differences across geographic markets and industries in the costs and benefits to retailers of installing air conditioning. Correlates of early adoption of commercial air conditioning include electricity rates and consumer income and education levels.

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The Journal of Economic History
  • ISSN: 0022-0507
  • EISSN: 1471-6372
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-economic-history
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