Temperature and High-Stakes Cognitive Performance: Evidence from the National College Entrance Examination in China
Joshua S. Graff Zivin, Yingquan Song, Qu Tang, Peng Zhang
NBER Working Paper No. 24821. Issued in July 2018
NBER Program(s):Children, Development Economics, Environment and Energy Economics, Health Economics, Public Economics
We provide the first nation-wide estimates on temperature effects on high-stakes cognitive performance in a developing country using data from the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE) in China. The NCEE is one of the most important institutions in China and affects hundreds of millions of families. We find that a one-standard-deviation increase in temperature (3.29° C) decreases the total test score by 1.12% (9.62% of a standard deviation) and decreases the probability of getting into first-tier universities by 1.97% (4.38% of a standard deviation). This suggests that temperature plays an important role in high-stakes cognitive performance and has potentially far-reaching impacts for the careers and lifetime earnings of students.