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Dr. Heather Randell
October 13, 2017 @ 3:35 pm - 5:00 pm
TITLE: The impact of climate change on educational attainment: Evidence from the global tropics
Investments in education serve as an important pathway out of poverty, yet reduced agricultural productivity due to droughts or temperature shocks may affect educational attainment if children receive poorer nutrition during early childhood, are required to participate in household income generation during schooling ages, or if households can no longer pay for school-related expenses. In order to understand the relationship between climate variability and educational outcomes, I link longitudinal socioeconomic, demographic, and schooling data from rural Ethiopia to climate data to measure exposure to temperature and precipitation relative to historical norms. Results indicate that more favorable early life climatic conditions – namely milder temperatures during all seasons and greater rainfall during the summer agricultural season – are associated with an increased likelihood of a child having completed any education. In addition, greater summer rainfall during both early life and school ages is associated with attending school at the time of the survey. In order to examine how widespread this phenomenon is, a new paper investigates how early life climate impacts education in 29 countries across the global tropics. Preliminary results suggest that above average heat exposure negatively impacts schooling outcomes in East Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia while greater rainfall is positively correlated with education in West Africa. These findings suggest that future climate change may reduce children’s school participation in many parts of the tropics, slowing progress toward human development goals and poverty alleviation.