Abstract

Season of birth is associated with later outcomes; what drives this association remains unclear. We consider a new explanation: variation in maternal characteristics. We document large changes in maternal characteristics for births throughout the year; winter births are disproportionally realized by teenagers and the unmarried. Family background controls explain nearly half of season-of-birth's relation to adult outcomes. Seasonality in maternal characteristics is driven by women trying to conceive; we find no seasonality among unwanted births. Prior seasonality-in-fertility research focuses on conditions at conception; here, expected conditions at birth drive variation in maternal characteristics, while conditions at conception are unimportant.

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