Heat and Learning
We demonstrate that heat inhibits learning and that school air-conditioning 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.
Thanks to Lawrence Katz, Joseph Aldy, Joshua Graff-Zivin, Matt Neidell, Alan Barreca, Lucas Davis, Olivier Deschenes, Matt Kahn, Sarah Reber, Wes Yin, Manisha Shah, Greg Duncan and Patrick Behrer for valuable comments and feedback. We also thank seminar participants at Harvard, UCLA, UCSB, UCSD, RAND, IZA, CESifo, and West Point, as well as participants at the annual meetings of the AEA, AERE, SEA and SREE. Melanie Rucinski provided excellent research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
- Cumulative heat exposure over the course of a school year is associated with a lower level of student learning, and the presence of...
R. Jisung Park & Joshua Goodman & Michael Hurwitz & Jonathan Smith, 2020. "Heat and Learning," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 306-339, May. citation courtesy of