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The Impact of Climate Change on Fertility

Gregory Casey (), Soheil Shayegh (), Juan Moreno-Cruz (), Martin Bunzl, Oded Galor () and Ken Caldeira
Additional contact information
Martin Bunzl: Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University
Ken Caldeira: Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford, CA

No 2019-04, Department of Economics Working Papers from Department of Economics, Williams College

Abstract: We examine the potential for climate change to impact fertility via adaptations in human behavior. We start by discussing a wide range of economic channels through which climate change might impact fertility, including sectoral reallocation, the gender wage gap, longevity, and child mortality. Then, we build a quantitative model that combines standard economic- demographic theory with existing estimates of the economic consequences of climate change. In the model, increases in global temperature affect agricultural and non-agricultural sectors differently. Near the equator, where many poor countries are located, climate change has a larger negative effect on agriculture. The resulting scarcity in agricultural goods acts as a force towards higher agricultural prices and wages, leading to a labor reallocation into this sector. Since agriculture makes less use of skilled labor, climate damage decreases the return to acquiring skills, inducing parents to invest less resources in the education of each child and to increase fertility. These patterns are reversed at higher latitudes, suggesting that climate change may exacerbate inequities by reducing fertility and increasing education in richer northern countries, while increasing fertility and reducing education in poorer tropical countries. While the model only examines the role of one specific mechanism, it suggests that climate change could have an impact on fertility, indicating the need for future work on this important topic. Classification-

Pages: 24 pages
Date: 2019-02
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr, nep-dem, nep-env and nep-gro
Note: Forthcoming in Environmental Research Letters
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