Air Pollution and Criminal Activity: Microgeographic Evidence from Chicago
- American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (Forthcoming)
A growing literature documents that air pollution adversely impacts
health, productivity, and cognition. This paper provides the first evidence
of a causal link between air pollution and aggressive behavior,
as documented by violent crime. Using the geolocation of crimes in
Chicago from 2001-2012, we compare crime upwind and downwind of
major highways on days when wind blows orthogonally to the road.
Consistent with research linking pollution to aggression, we find air
pollution increases violent crime on the downwind sides of interstates.
Our results suggest that pollution may reduce welfare and affect behavior
through a wider set of channels than previously considered.
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