The effect of weather on crime : an investigation of weather and annual crime rates
University of Wisconsin--Whitewater
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This paper investigates the effect of temperature and precipitation on murder, rape, homicide, and burglary levels in California from 2000-2010. It uses annual data to smooth out the effects of short-term, stress-inducing weather shocks on crime, and instead focus on how weather plays into rational criminals’ expected utility functions. Initial findings show that higher temperatures are associated with fewer robberies and homicides, and more burglaries. However, after adding in economic and demographic controls along with county-specific fixed effects, these results become statistically insignificant. Precipitation is initially found to only be associated with lower robbery levels, but after adding in controls, this result becomes statistically-insignificant. With controls and county-specific fixed effects, though, this paper finds that higher levels of rain and snow are associated with fewer burglaries. These results may indicate that precipitation levels play into burglars’ expected utility functions and stress the importance of controlling for as much demographic, economic, and unobserved heterogeneity as possible.
Crime and weather