Hot Days Fuel More Crime: USC Study

What do hotter days and crime have in common?

A study by two researchers at the University of Southern California (USC), circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research, used daily crime data from the city of Los Angeles and found an increase in crime as temperatures became hotter.

The researchers wrote, “On average, overall crime increases by 2.2 percent and violent crime by 5.7 percent on days with maximum daily temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to days below that threshold.”

Other studies have found similar results. In 2018, The New York Times found a correlation between an increase in shootings and high temperatures when it looked at crimes across ten cities.

A notable case, it reported, is Chicago. The Times said that shooting victims per day based on weather was 13 on hot days (85 Fahrenheit or above), whereas pleasant days (50 to 84) were 10.2. In cold weather, the paper said, the number was 6.3.

A 2017 study from Drexel University discussed a correlation as well when studying Philadelphia.

The USC researchers also wrote that the marginal effect of violent crime from high temperatures was higher in poorer neighborhoods with older housing stock. Even after looking at property crimes, they also said, “We document that heat only affects violent crime…while property crimes are not affected.”

“We use other administrative data and find some evidence that policing intensity declines on extremely hot days,” said the researchers.

Less law enforcement raises concerns over monitoring neighborhoods—especial areas with higher crime.

To tackle the issues highlighted in the report and reduce high heat morality, the researchers suggest air conditioning in neighborhood households.

Regarding law enforcement, the study said the “the city’s leadership can offer incentives or add more patrol cars on such days to supplement the supply of government services.”

Brian Demo is a TCR news intern.

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