A small number of rigorous panel studies relate weather fluctuations to crime. Using a fixed effects panel specification, Jacob, Lefgren and Moretti (2007) find that higher temperatures in a given week increase both violent and property crime in the U.S. during that week, whereas higher precipitation reduces violent crime but has no impact on property crime. Using a 50-year panel of monthly crime and weather data for nearly 3,000 U.S. counties, Ranson (2012) also finds that increased temperatures lead to increased criminal activity. He finds roughly linear positive effects of temperature on violent crimes. For property crimes, he finds that very cold days (below 40 degrees F) reduce property crimes, but very hot days do not increase them. Together, these studies and the evidence discussed above suggest that weather has an immediate effect upon criminal activity, particularly for violent crime. Some researchers have argued for a biological pathway through which temperature affects serotonin neurotransmission in the brain, influencing impulsivity and aggression (see for example Tiihonen, Räsänen, and Hakko 1997), but this hypothesis remains controversial (see, for example, Maes et al. 1993). Whether the temperature-aggression nexus occurs via neurological or social-psychological channels remains an important area of research in criminology, and studying potential linkages between aggression mechanisms and broader social conflict (Section 3.7) is an interesting subject for further research.
Oct 25, 2013
What Do We Learn from the Weather? The New Climate-Economy Literature
The graph is from this paper by Melissa Dell Benjamin F. Jones Benjamin A. Olken. An interesting paragraph on the climate-crime link