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

Satellite photo by NASA


Alan Barreca
Associate Professor of Economics
Tulane University


Friday, March 24, 2017


Noon–1:00 p.m. PT


RAND Corporation
1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA


A large-scale government program in Alan Barreca and coauthors estimate the effects of temperature shocks on birth rates in the United States between 1931 and 2010. The results indicate that days above 80°F cause a large decline in birth rates 8 to 10 months later. Interestingly, the initial decline is followed by a partial rebound in births over the next few months implying that populations can mitigate some of the fertility cost by shifting conception month.

During the talk, Alan presented novel evidence that hot weather harms fertility via reproductive health as opposed to sexual activity. Historical evidence suggests air conditioning could be used to substantially offset the fertility costs of high temperatures. Overall, these findings suggest that climate change is likely to increase the costs of conceiving in the United States.


Alan Barreca is an Associate Professor of Economics at Tulane University. He earned his PhD from University of California, Davis in 2008. Alan is interested in many topics relating to environmental economics, labor economics, and epidemiology. His research focuses on understanding of the effects of climatic shocks on human health. Past research has explored how our vulnerability to hot weather has changed over time. His most recent work investigates the effects of hot weather on fertility in the United States. Alan’s research has been mentioned in the press by: CNN, Bloomberg, Huffington Post, Mashable, The Independent, CityLab, Reuters, NY Times, Washington Post, and Stephen Colbert.

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