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.
This paper belongs to a series called Harvard Kennedy School M-RCBG Associate Working Paper Series, and it can be had, free of charge, on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN).
I am not quite sure what to say about this, except that that’s an awful lot of crime. But social science was, is and always will be absolutely true – just ask any social scientist. After all, the proof is in the putzing.