Season of Birth and Later Outcomes: Old Questions, New Answers

Rev Econ Stat. 2013 Jul 1;95(3):711-724. doi: 10.1162/REST_a_00314.


Season of birth is associated with later outcomes; what drives this association remains unclear. We consider a new explanation: variation in maternal characteristics. We document large changes in maternal characteristics for births throughout the year; winter births are disproportionally realized by teenagers and the unmarried. Family background controls explain nearly half of season-of-birth's relation to adult outcomes. Seasonality in maternal characteristics is driven by women trying to conceive; we find no seasonality among unwanted births. Prior seasonality-in-fertility research focuses on conditions at conception; here expected conditions at birth drive variation in maternal characteristics while conditions at conception are unimportant.