New study suggests winter babies face socioeconomic disadvantages

Jan 07, 2009

Many of us may often feel that we've been born under an unlucky sign. Now, new research by a pair of University of Notre Dame economists suggests that some of us are, in fact, born in an unlucky season.

In their paper, Kasey Buckles and Daniel Hungerman point out that a large body of previous research consistently has found that people born in December, January and February are, on average, less educated, less intelligent, less healthy and lower paid than people born in other seasons.

A variety of explanations have been suggested for this phenomenon, including such social and natural factors as compulsory schooling laws, changes in climate and exposure to illness. However, the exact cause of the association between season of birth and later outcomes has never been precisely clear.

In the new study, Buckles and Hungerman analyzed U.S census data and birth certificates to determine if the typical woman giving birth in winter is any different from the typical woman giving birth at other times of the year.

They discovered that babies born in the winter are more likely to have mothers who are unmarried, who are teenagers or who lack a high school diploma. One explanation for the seasonal patterns in births is that summer's high temperatures inhibit sperm production. This seems to affect lower socioeconomic status women more adversely, which could explain why there are relatively fewer births to these women in the spring and early summer.

Buckles and Hungerman also point out that there could be a "prom babies" effect, with winter births occurring nine moths after end-of-year school celebrations.

The researchers also note that survey data has shown that women consider winter the least desirable season in which to give birth. Buckles and Hungerman suggest that women who are wealthier and more educated are better able to time their births to more desirable seasons.

The Notre Dame economists' findings are published in a National Bureau of Economic Research Working paper.

Source: University of Notre Dame

Explore further: Schwarzenegger pushes Congress to save after-school funding

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Feds spot third baby orca born recently to imperiled pods

Feb 26, 2015

(AP)—U.S. scientists following endangered killer whales from a research vessel have spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population ...

Making cities more accessible for everyone

Oct 31, 2014

Ron Buliung's interest in urban design initially started with his travels to Europe and India where he saw how different cities dealt with issues such as space, wealth, poverty, street life, congestion and ...

Scientist gets World Food Prize for wheat advances

Jun 18, 2014

A crop scientist credited with developing hundreds of varieties of disease-resistant wheat adaptable to many climates and difficult growing conditions was named Wednesday as the 2014 recipient of the World Food Prize.

Recommended for you

Destroyed Mosul artefacts to be rebuilt in 3D

Mar 27, 2015

It didn't take long for the scientific community to react. Two weeks after the sacking of the 300 year-old Mosul Museum by a group of ISIS extremists went viral on Youtube, researchers from the ITN-DCH, IAPP ...

Boys plagiarise more than girls at school

Mar 27, 2015

Research by the University of the Balearic Islands has analysed the phenomenon of academic plagiarism among secondary school students. The study, published in the journal Comunicar, confirms that this practi ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

deatopmg
1 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2009
"In their paper, Kasey Buckles and Daniel Hungerman point out that a large body of previous research consistently has found that people born in December, January and February are, on average, less educated, less intelligent, less healthy and lower paid than people born in other seasons."

And get less vitamin D because they get less (really no) sun.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.