Are you feeling lucky? If you were born in December, January or February, maybe not. Economists from the University of Notre Dame found people born during winter months tend to be less healthy, less intelligent, less educated and lower paid compared with individuals born in spring, summer or fall. Researchers Kasey Buckles and Daniel Hungerman examined birth certificates and U.S. census data and observed that women giving birth in winter are different from a typical woman giving birth in other months. Their research shows that babies born during winter are more likely to have unwed or teenage mothers or mothers who lack a high school diploma.
Several factors could explain this phenomenon. First, hot temperatures in the summer tend to reduce sperm production. Less sperm in the man equals less chance of pregnancy. While this can impact all women, research has shown that women of lower socioeconomic status are more affected than others. If a woman can hardly pay the bills, how can she spring for reproductive help like in vitro fertilization? As a result, these lower educated, lower paid women as less likely to give birth in the spring and summer months. Another explanation is what researchers are calling the “prom babies” effect, accounting for the higher number of winter births to teenage mothers. Nine months after all that Dirty Dancing and it’s snowing outside.
Finally, surveys show women would rather give birth in the spring, summer or fall. Buckles and Hungerman point out wealthier and more educated women are better able to plan and time their births around the undesirable winter season.
So, winter babies, the next time your mother asks why you haven’t been as successful as the golden boy or girl next door, you have someone to blame.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.