Winter baby woes

Author: John Monczunski

Social scientists have found that children born during the winter months have a more difficult time in life than those born during the rest of the year. While there are many examples of successful people born in winter, winter children seem to get shortchanged quite a bit.

Statistically, they tend to be less intelligent, less well-educated and less healthy, says Notre Dame economist Kasey Buckles. In the past, social scientists have offered a variety of explanations from bad weather to school-age cutoffs to explain the winter child phenomenon.

However, it turns out who their mother is may have more to do with the mystery than when they are born. A recent study by Buckles and her ND colleague, Daniel Hungerman, implicates mothers of winter babies as the key determinant in up to half the cases. Analyzing birth records and census data, Buckles and Hungerman discovered that mothers of winter babies are more likely to be unmarried teenagers who have not graduated from high school. The economists argue that winter babies are more at risk because their mothers are more likely to come from a lower socioeconomic class.

Surveys show that most women would prefer to not give birth during the cold winter months. The economists speculate that wealthier women are more likely to have the resources to control the timing of their child’s birth to avoid the colder months. As to why winter babies are more likely to have teenage mothers, Buckles suggests the “prom factor” may play a role. She notes that winter comes nine months after the spring prom season.