Temperature anomalies undermine the health of reproductive-age women in low- and middle-income countries

Clark Gray, Brian C. Thiede

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Climate change is expected to undermine population health and well-being in low- and middle-income countries, but relatively few analyses have directly examined these effects using individual-level data at global scales, particularly for reproductive-age women. To address this lacuna, we harmonize nationally representative data from the Demographic and Health Surveys on reproductive health, body mass index (BMI), and temporary migration from 2.5 million adult women (ages 15 to 49) in approximately 109,000 sites across 59 low- and middle-income countries, which we link to high-resolution climate data. We use this linked dataset to estimate fixed-effect logistic regression models of demographic and health outcomes as a function of climate exposures, woman-level and site-level characteristics, seasonality, and regional time trends, allowing us to plausibly isolate climate effects from other influences on health and migration. Specifically, we measure the effects of recent exposures to temperature and precipitation anomalies on the likelihood of having a live birth in the past year, desire for another child, use of modern contraception, underweight (BMI < 18.5), and temporary migration, and subsequently allow for nonlinearity as well as heterogeneity across education, rural/ urban residence, and baseline climate. This analysis reveals that exposures to high temperatures increase live births, reduce desire for another child, increase underweight, and increase temporary migration, particularly in rural areas. The findings represent clear evidence that anthropogenic temperature increases contribute to temporary migration and are a significant threat to women’s health and reproductive autonomy in low- and middle-income countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2311567121
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 12 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Cite this