Heat and Learning
AbstractWe demonstrate that heat inhibits learning and that school air conditioning may mitigate this effect. Student fixed effects models using 10 million students who retook the PSATs show that hotter school days in the years before the test was taken reduce scores, with extreme heat being particularly damaging. Weekend and summer temperatures have little impact, suggesting heat directly disrupts learning time. New nationwide, school-level measures of air conditioning penetration suggest patterns consistent with such infrastructure largely offsetting heat's effects. Without air conditioning, a 1°F hotter school year reduces that year's learning by 1 percent. Hot school days disproportionately impact minority students, accounting for roughly 5 percent of the racial achievement gap.
CitationPark, R. Jisung, Joshua Goodman, Michael Hurwitz, and Jonathan Smith. 2020. "Heat and Learning." American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 12 (2): 306-39. DOI: 10.1257/pol.20180612
- I21 Analysis of Education
- I24 Education and Inequality
- J15 Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
- Q54 Climate; Natural Disasters and Their Management; Global Warming