May 9, 2018 10:00 pm / 11:00 pm

43-105 CHS

 Jisung Park, PhD

Assistant Professor, Environmental Health Sciences and Public Policy, UCLA 

About the lecture: It is well-known that hotter countries tend to be poorer on average. A country that is 1F warmer has approximately 4.5% lower GDP per capita. It is less well-established that individuals in hotter places exhibit consistently lower educational attainment for any given age or grade, though it is as yet unclear how much of this – if any – may attributable to a hotter climate per se. We provide the first evidence that cumulative heat exposure inhibits cognitive skill development and that school air conditioning can mitigate this effect. Student fixed effects models using 10 million PSAT-takers show that hotter school days in the year prior to the test reduce learning, with extreme heat being particularly damaging and larger effects for low income and minority students. Weekend and summer heat has little impact and the effect is not explained by pollution or local economic shocks, suggesting heat directly reduces instructional time productivity. Newly collected data providing the first measures of school-level air conditioning penetration across the US suggests that such technology almost entirely offsets these effects. Our estimates imply that climate change could lower US secondary school achievement by 1% of a standard deviation per year by 2040-2050 without additional adaptation, but allowing for adaptation reduces this effect by half or more. 

About the speaker: Dr. R. Jisung Park is an assistant professor in public policy and environmental health sciences, with joint appointments at the Fielding School of Public Health and the Luskin School of Public Affairs. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, where he specialized in environmental economics and labor economics. Park’s primary research interests are environmental determinants of health and human capital, the prospects for long-run adaptation to climate change, and effects of extreme heat on labor-related outcomes. Jisung received his undergraduate education in economics and political science from Columbia University (’09), and went on to pursue master’s degrees in environmental change and management (’10) and development economics (’11) at Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship. 


For more information, contact Rebecca Greenberg at or at (310) 206-1619.