Abstract

Monthly birth and temperature data for a variety of states and countries are used to estimate the effect of short-run temperature fluctuations on fertility. Regressions of monthly births on a flexible specification of lagged monthly temperature show that temperature has quantitatively important effects on both seasonal and nonseasonal variation in births. Summer temperature extremes reduce conceptions in the southern United States, explaining a substantial part of the observed seasonal birth pattern. Extreme cold shows no evidence of affecting conceptions. The results also show significant seasonality in births even after accounting for temperature. Controls for monthly temperature do not explain the persistent spring peak in births in northern Europe. This finding suggests that other factors play an important role.

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