IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp11492.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Crime is in the Air: The Contemporaneous Relationship between Air Pollution and Crime

Author

Listed:
  • Bondy, Malvina

    (London School of Economics)

  • Roth, Sefi

    () (London School of Economics)

  • Sager, Lutz

    () (London School of Economics)

Abstract

Many empirical studies have examined various determinants of crime. However, the link between crime and air pollution has been surprisingly overlooked despite several potential pathways. In this paper, we study whether exposure to ambient air pollution affects crime by using daily administrative data for the years 2004-05 in London. For identification, we mainly rely on the panel structure of the data to estimate models with ward fixed effects. We complement our main analysis with an instrumental variable approach where we use wind direction as an exogenous shock to local air pollution concentrations. We find that elevated levels of air pollution have a positive and statistically significant impact on overall crime and that the effect is stronger for types of crime which tend to be less severe. We formally explore the underlying mechanism for our finding and conclude that the effect of air pollution on crime is likely mediated by higher discounting of future punishment. Importantly, we also find that these effects are present at levels which are well below current regulatory standards and that the effect of air pollution on crime appears to be unevenly distributed across the income distribution. Overall, our results suggest that reducing air pollution in urban areas may be a cost effective measure to reduce crime.

Suggested Citation

  • Bondy, Malvina & Roth, Sefi & Sager, Lutz, 2018. "Crime is in the Air: The Contemporaneous Relationship between Air Pollution and Crime," IZA Discussion Papers 11492, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11492
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp11492.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mirko Draca & Stephen Machin & Robert Witt, 2011. "Panic on the Streets of London: Police, Crime, and the July 2005 Terror Attacks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2157-2181, August.
    2. Ranson, Matthew, 2014. "Crime, weather, and climate change," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 274-302.
    3. Lutz Sager, 2016. "Estimating the effect of air pollution on road safety using atmospheric temperature," GRI Working Papers 251, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    4. Stephen Machin & Olivier Marie & Sunčica Vujić, 2011. "The Crime Reducing Effect of Education," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(552), pages 463-484, May.
    5. Delaney, Liam & Fink, Günther & Harmon, Colm, 2014. "Effects Of Stress On Economic Decision-Making: Evidence From Laboratory Experiments," Working Papers 2014-03, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
    6. Avraham Ebenstein & Victor Lavy & Sefi Roth, 2016. "The Long-Run Economic Consequences of High-Stakes Examinations: Evidence from Transitory Variation in Pollution," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 36-65, October.
    7. repec:iza:izawol:journl:2017:n:363 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2003. "The Impact of Air Pollution on Infant Mortality: Evidence from Geographic Variation in Pollution Shocks Induced by a Recession," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1121-1167.
    9. Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, 2015. "Lead Exposure And Behavior: Effects On Antisocial And Risky Behavior Among Children And Adolescents," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 53(3), pages 1580-1605, July.
    10. Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell, 2012. "The Impact of Pollution on Worker Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3652-3673, December.
    11. Lichter, Andreas & Pestel, Nico & Sommer, Eric, 2017. "Productivity effects of air pollution: Evidence from professional soccer," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 54-66.
    12. Tatyana Deryugina & Garth Heutel & Nolan H. Miller & David Molitor & Julian Reif, 2016. "The Mortality and Medical Costs of Air Pollution: Evidence from Changes in Wind Direction," NBER Working Papers 22796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Marshall Burke & Solomon M. Hsiang & Edward Miguel, 2015. "Climate and Conflict," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 7(1), pages 577-617, August.
    14. Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, 2007. "Environmental Policy as Social Policy? The Impact of Childhood Lead Exposure on Crime," NBER Working Papers 13097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. repec:kap:expeco:v:20:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10683-017-9515-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-565, May-June.
    17. Reyes Jessica Wolpaw, 2007. "Environmental Policy as Social Policy? The Impact of Childhood Lead Exposure on Crime," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-43, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    air pollution; crime; economic incentives;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11492. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak). General contact details of provider: http://www.iza.org .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.