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Climate Change Is Apparently Bad for American Sex Lives

Americans have fewer babies 10 months after periods of 80 degree days.


When the temperature outside goes up, heat in American bedrooms goes down.

That’s according to a new working paper from noted research group the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Three economists — Alan Barreca, Olivier Deschenes, and Melanie Guldi — determined that when temperatures rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, “coital frequency,” or the number of times a couple has sex, decreases.

They argue the proof of this phenomenon can be seen in birth rates. Using 80 years of U.S. weather and fertility data, the economists found that birth rates dropped significantly 10 months after periods of 80+ degree weather. They also, however, concluded that the mercury falling below 80 degrees doesn’t translate into more babies.

In other words, couples don’t make up for the decrease in hot weather sex when it turns cooler outside. The researchers estimate there are 1,165 fewer births each year in the United States due to lack of baby-makin’ in the heat.

The title of the group’s report, issued last month and released this week, is “Maybe Next Month? Temperature Shocks, Climate Change, and Dynamic Adjustments in Birth Rates.” It adds an extra, somewhat salacious metric to the debate over whether more needs to be done to combat climate change, something President Barack Obama, a broad coalition of American businesses, and environmental groups are pushing. Republicans, including most of the 2016 GOP presidential field, tend to be skeptical that man is causing the Earth to get hotter.

According to the NBER study, the real impact of warmer U.S. days will be seen over time. Assuming the worst — that emissions will continue to increase unchecked — the researchers estimated that from 2070 to 2099, the United States could have 64 more days each year when average temperatures top 80 degrees, compared to the period from 1990 to 2002, which averaged 31 such days. This could result in 107,000 fewer births, which equals a 2.6 percent decline in the U.S. birth rate.

This isn’t the first time researchers have linked climate change to babies. And in fact, it’s been long acknowledged that couples tend to snuggle up in bed more frequently when it’s cold outside. A September 2015 University of Utah study determined that African women exposed to hot days, and with limited exposure to rain, had babies with lower birth weights.

Photo credit: David McNew/Getty Images