I Am Innocent: Hourly Variations in Air Pollution and Crime Behavior

Discussion Papers 1879, 44 S.

Luis Sarmiento


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I posit that hourly changes in air pollution affect criminality through two distinct pathways, via physiological effects on the criminal and by changes in the tightness of the market for criminal activities. To disentangle individual from market effects, I develop a behavioral model of the individual decision to transgress and a model of search-and-matching frictions between criminals and crime opportunities. The study examines the impact on the four largest cities in North America. Causality emerges from instrumental variable panel-models. Results show that pollution increases violent and unpremeditated crimes while decreasing burglaries and sexual offenses through a reduction of crime opportunities.

JEL-Classification: K14;Q53;I18;H23
Keywords: Local air pollution, criminality, external effects, prospect theory, search and matching frictions, panel models