Comparing apples to apples: an environmental criminology analysis of the effects of heat and rain on violent crimes in Boston

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Abstract:

Weather characteristics have been suggested by many social scientists to influence criminality. A recent study suggested that climate change may cause a substantial increase in criminal activities during the twenty-first century. The additional number of crimes due to climate have been ethoroughly discussed the first draft of the paper. Allstimated by associational models, which are not optimal to quantify causal impacts of weather conditions on criminality. Using the Rubin Causal Model and crime data reported daily between 2012 and 2017, this study examines whether changes in heat index, a proxy for apparent temperature, and rainfall occurrence, influence the number of violent crimes in Boston. On average, more crimes are reported on temperate days compared to extremely cold days, and on dry days compared to rainy days. However, no significant differences in the number of crimes between extremely hot days versus less warm days could be observed. The results suggest that weather forecasts could be integrated into crime prevention programs in Boston. The weather-crime relationship should be taken into account when assessing the economic, sociological, or medical impact of climate change. Researchers and policy makers interested in the effects of environmental exposures or policy interventions on crime should consider data analyses conducted with causal inference approaches.
Last updated on 07/26/2021