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September 18, 2012

"Crime, Weather, and Climate Change"

The title of this post is the title of this notable paper by Matthew Ranson available via SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This paper estimates the impact of climate change on the prevalence of criminal activity in the United States.  The analysis is based on a 50-year panel of monthly crime and weather data for 2,972 U.S. counties.  I identify the effect of weather on monthly crime by using a semi-parametric bin estimator and controlling for county-by-month and county-by-year fixed effects.  The results show that temperature has a strong positive effect on criminal behavior, with little evidence of lagged impacts.  Between 2010 and 2099, climate change will cause an additional 30,000 murders, 200,000 cases of rape, 1.4 million aggravated assaults, 2.2 million simple assaults, 400,000 robberies, 3.2 million burglaries, 3.0 million cases of larceny, and 1.3 million cases of vehicle theft in the United States.

Yikes!   Well, I guess the good news is that I can now think of my Prius as a crime-fighting machine. 

Seriously, I have long understood there are important connections between weather and crime, and perhaps this article provides (still more) justification for climate change advocates to consider seizing upon a "tough on crime" mantra.

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September 18, 2012 at 04:32 PM | Permalink


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Makes sense, if it's to cold outside criminals don't go out as it's to cold.

Posted by: jack | Sep 18, 2012 6:29:20 PM

The author conflates correlation with causality. For example, birds nest in my tree once a year. This correlates with warming air temps and leaves appearing on the tree. Does the bird cause the warming air and the leaves to sprout?

That said, there may be more crime when it's warmer than when it's not. But wasn't it warmer both inside and outside fifty years ago, in say Chicago? Was crime worse then then now? Think about it.

Posted by: Michael Rethman | Sep 18, 2012 7:38:40 PM

There is a better correlation between crime and the oversupply of lawyers in a country.

To eradicate all crime, arrest, try, and execute the entire lawyer hierarchy of the United States. Then, summarily execute all repeat, violent, criminals. No criminals. No crime. This is crime control by attrition alone. It assumes no deterrence effect.

There are about 15,000 members of the lawyer hierarchy. Their replacement would be deterred by the first mass eradication. If not deterred, repeat. There would be about 10,000 violent career criminals in each birth cohort. Their elimination would save more than that number of murder victims, numbering 17,000 now. That number is down only because of advances in trauma care, not from anything the lawyer is doing to protect the public.

I do not know if I would have the personal physical courage to execute even a serial killer. I have no doubt that I could dispatch a member of the lawyer hierarchy without the slightest hesitation, to save our nation.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 18, 2012 10:54:33 PM

Jack says people don't go out when it's cold. In Texas, people don't go out when it's hot.

Crime goes up in the summer, yes, partially because kids are out of school. But in recent years crime has declined, including juvenile crime, and where I live we've lately had some of our hottest summers on record. The general thesis seems worthy of consideration and discussion. The specific, sky-is-falling numerical predictions strike me as utter BS.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Sep 19, 2012 8:35:56 AM

The numbers of cases are in millions police forces have to do hard work.

Posted by: Bromley Solicitors | Oct 16, 2012 8:21:02 AM

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