Crime, Weather, and Climate Change

Harvard Kennedy School M-RCBG Associate Working Paper Series No. 8

50 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2012 Last revised: 12 Nov 2012

Matthew Ranson

Abt Associates, Inc.

Date Written: November 10, 2012

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.

Keywords: Climate change, crime, weather

JEL Classification: Q540, Q500, J010

Suggested Citation

Ranson, Matthew, Crime, Weather, and Climate Change (November 10, 2012). Harvard Kennedy School M-RCBG Associate Working Paper Series No. 8. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2111377 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2111377

Matthew Ranson (Contact Author)

Abt Associates, Inc. ( email )

55 Wheeler Street
Cambridge, MA 02138-1168
United States

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