Heat and Learning
R. Jisung Park
- American Economic Journal: Economic Policy (Forthcoming)
We demonstrate that heat inhibits learning and that school airconditioning
may mitigate this effect. Student fixed effects models using
10 million PSAT-retakers show hotter school days in years before
the test reduce scores, with extreme heat being particularly damaging.
Weekend and summer temperature has 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 one percent. Hot
school days disproportionately impact minority students, accounting for
roughly five percent of the racial achievement gap.
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