, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 1269–1293 | Cite as

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

  • Alan BarrecaEmail author
  • Olivier Deschenes
  • Melanie Guldi


We estimate the effects of temperature shocks on birth rates in the United States between 1931 and 2010. We find that days with a mean temperature above 80°F cause a large decline in birth rates 8 to 10 months later. Unlike prior studies, we demonstrate that the initial decline is followed by a partial rebound in births over the next few months, implying that populations mitigate some of the fertility cost by shifting conception month. This shift helps explain the observed peak in late-summer births in the United States. We also present new evidence that hot weather most likely harms fertility via reproductive health as opposed to sexual activity. Historical evidence suggests that air conditioning could be used to substantially offset the fertility costs of high temperatures.


Fertility Birth rates Birth seasonality Temperature 



The authors thank the numerous seminar participants at Oberlin College, Simon Fraser University, Tulane University, University of California–Merced, University of Houston, University of Mississippi, University of Montreal, 2014 IZA Conference on the Labor Market Effects of Environmental Policies, 2014 Southeastern Health Economics Study Group, 2014 Southern Economic Association Meetings, 2015 Society of Labor Economist Meetings, and 2016 NBER Spring Meetings. In addition, special thanks are owed to D. Mark Anderson, Marianne Bitler, Janet Currie, Marisa Domino, Jason Fletcher, Caroline Hoxby, Solomon Hsiang, Daniel Hungerman, Amir Jina, Jason Lindo, Elaine Liu, Matthew Neidell, Nick Sanders, and Hannes Schwandt for their helpful comments.

Supplementary material

13524_2018_690_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (660 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 659 kb)


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan Barreca
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Olivier Deschenes
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Melanie Guldi
    • 5
  1. 1.Institute of the Environment and SustainabilityUniversity of California-Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.IZA Institute of Labor EconomicsBonnGermany
  3. 3.National Bureau of Economic ResearchCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.Department of EconomicsUniversity of California–Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  5. 5.Department of Economics, College of Business AdministrationUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

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