Human adaptation to climate change may include changes in fertility as people decide how much time and money they wish to devote in having children and invest in their future, claim researchers.
As per a study published in the Journal of Environmental Research Letter, climate change could affect fertility, including sectoral reallocation, the gender wage gap, longevity, and child mortality.
Researchers used a quantitative model that combined standard economic-demographic theory with an existing estimate of the economic consequences of climate change.
The model examined two example economies, Colombia and Switzerland. It focused on how the demographic impacts of climate change might differ across locations and between richer and poorer countries.
The team’s model follows individuals through two stages of life, childhood and adulthood. In the model, parents must decide how to divide limited resources between supporting current family consumption, having children, and paying for each child’s education. Children’s future income depends on parental decisions.
Dr Gregory Casey, the study’s lead author said: “Increases in global temperature affect agricultural and non-agricultural sectors differently. Near the equator, where there are many poorer countries, climate change has a larger negative effect on agriculture.“This leads to scarcity of agricultural goods, higher agricultural prices and wages and ultimately, a labour reallocation. Because agriculture makes less use of skilled labour, our model showed that climate change decreases the return on acquiring skills, leading parents to invest fewer resources in the education of each child, and to increase fertility,” he added.
Co-author Dr Soheil Shayegh, said: “Our model suggests climate change may worsen inequalities by reducing fertility and increasing education in richer northern countries while increasing fertility and reducing education in tropical countries.
Dr Casey added: “Our model only deals with a single economic channel, so it is not intended to give a complete quantitative account of the impact of climate change on demographic outcomes. Further work is needed on other economic channels, especially those related to health.”