Impact of heat stress on human capital formation

Impact of heat stress on human capital formation
Photo by Jeremy Bezanger / Unsplash

This abstract on the Jisung Park paper on, “Heat Stress and Human Capital Production”. Global warming and climate change are causing temperatures to rise around the globe, leading to an increase in hot days and nights. High air temperature, minimal movement of air, and humidity cause heat stress.

Heat stress has well-known physiological consequences. In extreme cases, exposure to heat can be fatal because the body can become dehydrated and cause dizziness, fever and muscle cramps which can lead to acute cardiovascular, respiratory, and cerebrovascular reactions.

Temperature plays a vital role in human capital formation, particularly in school environments. In order to assess whether and how heat stress affects human capital production, the author studied the data from the New York City public schools. It was found that, relative to a better 72°F day, days of 90°F would reduce test scores by 0.165 standard deviations and reduce the probability of students passing the test by 6.2 percentage points.

Heat exposure in the classroom can slow down learning and the accumulation of human capital and can reduce long-run educational achievement. A small amount of heat stress can have a knock-on effect on education.

A study by OCurrie et al. (2012) found that local air quality has a significant causal impact on student attendance. Lavy and Ebanstein (2015) found the impact of particulate matter on students’ test scores during Israeli high school graduation exams, and traced it back to the impact on earnings in later life.

Climate and human capital interaction may contribute to the long-debated correlation between hotter climates and slower growth. Environmental heat can be an important factor to the human capital production function. Decision-makers should consider this when allocating public resources, especially when the utilization of cooling technology is incomplete and includes high-stakes which will effects the important decisions about students, educators, schools, etc. It wil thus poses problems in schooling.

Impact of heat stress on human capital formation
By Bhupesh Upadhyay, Deputy Manager, Sanrachana