The Urban Crime and Heat Gradient in High and Low Poverty Areas

43 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2019

See all articles by Kilian Heilmann

Kilian Heilmann

USC Dornsife Institute for New Economic Thinking

Matthew E. Kahn

University of Southern California; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2019

Abstract

We use spatially disaggregated daily crime data for the City of Los Angeles to measure the impact of heat and pollution on crime and to study how this relationship varies across the city. On average, overall crime increases by 2.2% and violent crime by 5.7% on days with maximum daily temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29.4° C) compared to days below that threshold. The heat-crime relationship is more pronounced in low-income neighborhoods. This suggests that heat shocks can increase spatial urban quality of life differences through their effect on crime. We use other administrative data and find some evidence that policing intensity declines on extremely hot days. These findings highlight that the quality of urban governance during times of extreme stress may be an important policy lever in helping all socio-economic groups adapt to climate change.

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Suggested Citation

Heilmann, Kilian and Kahn, Matthew E., The Urban Crime and Heat Gradient in High and Low Poverty Areas (June 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25961. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3405148

Kilian Heilmann (Contact Author)

USC Dornsife Institute for New Economic Thinking ( email )

3620 S. Vermont Avenue, KAP 364F
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0253
United States

Matthew E. Kahn

University of Southern California ( email )

2250 Alcazar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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