Poor Sleep: Sunset Time and Human Capital Production

Maulik Jagnani

This paper provides evidence that arbitrary clock conventions -- by generating large differences in when the sun sets across locations -- help determine the geographic distribution of educational attainment levels. I show later sunset reduces children's sleep: when the sun sets later, children go to bed later; by contrast, wake-up times do not respond to solar cues. Sleep-deprived students decrease study effort, consistent with a model where sleep is productivity-enhancing and increases the marginal returns of effort. Overall, school-age children exposed to later sunsets attain fewer years of education and are less likely to complete primary and middle school. Later sunsets are also associated with fewer hours of sleep and lower wages among adults. The non-poor adjust their sleep schedules when the sun sets later; sunset-induced sleep deficits are most pronounced among the poor, especially in periods when households face severe financial constraints.

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 Presented in Session 134. Education Outcomes in Low- and Middle-Income Countries