Jul 17, 2019 | Updated: 10:03 AM EDT

Could Climate Change Have an Impact on Human Fertility

May 15, 2019 05:25 PM EDT

Nature and Pregnancy
(Photo : Tawny van Breda)

Climate change has a huge impact on various elements that are essential to humanity's survival. Obvious indications of climate change impact include weather extremes, quality of air, food, shelter, water, and security. In numerous ways, climate change threatens human health and well-being, especially as the phenomenon is coupled with other natural and human-made health stressors.

Undoubtedly, climate change could be one of the links that resulted in a chain reaction that could ultimately affect human fertility. The angle of that researchers are looking into is how climate change has affected the economy which effectively would have a number of implications on the reproductive health of people in various walks of life.

A group of scientists has observed that people decide how much time and money they could devote to childrearing. People are now more conscious as to whether they would use their resources to have more children or invest in the future of the children that they already have.

The scientist looked into several factors that could affect fertility. This includes sectoral reallocation, the gender wage gap, child mortality, and longevity. The scientists also used a quantitative model which they combined with a standard economic-demographic theory with an existing estimate of climate change's economic consequences.

The model shows that parents should be able to decide how to divide their limited resources. Funds should be distributed to support the current family consumption, having children, and expenses for the education of each child.

Climate change affects the number of resources for each family as climate change impacts agriculture directly leads to scarcity of agricultural goods, higher agricultural prices, and reallocation of labor and wages. This, in turn, takes a toll on the economic sector.

Dr. Gregory Casey, the lead Author of the study, explained that the increases in global temperature affect agricultural and non-agricultural sectors differently. The poor countries near the equator experience larger negative effects on agriculture brought on by climate change.

Dr. Soheil Shayegh, the co-author of the study, explains that their model suggests climate change could possibly worsen inequalities by reducing fertility as education increased in richer northern countries while increasing fertility as education is reduced in the tropical countries.

Dr. Casey pointed out that their model only deals with a single economic channel. Further work is needed on other economic channels to give a complete quantitative account on the impact of climate change. Special attention should be given to economic channels that are related to health.

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