Heat Waves at Conception and Later Life Outcomes

Joshua Wilde, University of South Florida
Benedicte Apouey, University of South Florida

We ask whether individuals conceived during heat waves have better health and educational outcomes later in life. Using Census and DHS data from sub-Saharan Africa, we show that individuals conceived during heat waves have higher literacy rates and educational attainment, and lower disability and infant mortality rates. We then explore several channels through which this effect may occur. We find that natural selection through fetal loss is the most likely mechanism driving our result. Although parents who conceive during heat waves have different characteristics than those who do not, we find no evidence that these differences explain our findings.

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Presented in Session 180: Public Health and the Environment