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Maybe Next Month? Temperature Shocks, Climate Change, and Dynamic Adjustments in Birth Rates

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  • Alan Barreca
  • Olivier Deschenes
  • Melanie Guldi

Abstract

Dynamic adjustments could be a useful strategy for mitigating the costs of acute environmental shocks when timing is not a strictly binding constraint. To investigate whether such adjustments could apply to fertility, we estimate the effects of temperature shocks on birth rates in the United States between 1931 and 2010. Our innovative approach allows for presumably random variation in the distribution of daily temperatures to affect birth rates up to 24 months into the future. We find that additional days above 80 °F cause a large decline in birth rates approximately 8 to 10 months later. The initial decline is followed by a partial rebound in births over the next few months implying that populations can mitigate the fertility cost of temperature shocks by shifting conception month. This dynamic adjustment helps explain the observed decline in birth rates during the spring and subsequent increase during the summer. The lack of a full rebound suggests that increased temperatures due to climate change may reduce population growth rates in the coming century. As an added cost, climate change will shift even more births to the summer months when third trimester exposure to dangerously high temperatures increases. Based on our analysis of historical changes in the temperature-fertility relationship, we conclude air conditioning could be used to substantially offset the fertility costs of climate change.

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  • Alan Barreca & Olivier Deschenes & Melanie Guldi, 2015. "Maybe Next Month? Temperature Shocks, Climate Change, and Dynamic Adjustments in Birth Rates," NBER Working Papers 21681, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21681
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Ingvild Almås & Maximilian Auffhammer & Tessa Bold & Ian Bolliger & Aluma Dembo & Solomon M. Hsiang & Shuhei Kitamura & Edward Miguel & Robert Pickmans, 2019. "Destructive Behavior, Judgment, and Economic Decision-making under Thermal Stress," NBER Working Papers 25785, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Pottier, Antonin & Fleurbaey, Marc & Méjean, Aurélie & Zuber, Stéphane, 2021. "Climate change and population: An assessment of mortality due to health impacts," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 183(C).
    4. Gregory Casey & Soheil Shayegh & Juan Moreno-Cruz & Martin Bunzl & Oded Galor & Ken Caldeira, 2019. "The Impact of Climate Change on Fertility," Department of Economics Working Papers 2019-04, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    5. Riccardo Colacito & Bridget Hoffmann & Toan Phan, 2019. "Temperature and Growth: A Panel Analysis of the United States," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 51(2-3), pages 313-368, March.
    6. Xiaojia Bao & Qingliang Fan, 2020. "The impact of temperature on gaming productivity: evidence from online games," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 58(2), pages 835-867, February.
    7. Alan Barreca, 2017. "Does hot weather affect human fertility?," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 375-375, July.
    8. Damian Clarke & Sonia Oreffice & Climent Quintana‐Domeque, 2019. "The demand for season of birth," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 34(5), pages 707-723, August.
    9. Antonin Pottier & Marc Fleurbaey & Stéphane Zuber, 2020. "Climate change and population: an integrated assessment of mortality due to health impacts," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 20029, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    10. Fishman, Ram & Carrillo, Paul & Russ, Jason, 2019. "Long-term impacts of exposure to high temperatures on human capital and economic productivity," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 221-238.
    11. Baggio, Michele & Chong, Alberto & Simon, David, 2020. "Sex, marijuana and baby booms," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    12. Alam, Shamma Adeeb & Pörtner, Claus C., 2018. "Income shocks, contraceptive use, and timing of fertility," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 96-103.
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    15. Hu, Zihan & Li, Teng, 2019. "Too hot to handle: The effects of high temperatures during pregnancy on adult welfare outcomes," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 236-253.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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