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The impact of climate change on fertility 865.06 KB

The authors examine the potential for climate change to impact fertility via adaptations in human behavior. The authors 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, the authors 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 mechanism, it suggests that climate change could have an impact on fertility, indicating the need for future work on this important topic.

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