Crime watch: hurricanes and illegal activities

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  • University of the West Indies


We investigate the relationship between hurricane strikes and crime for Jamaica. To this end we construct hurricane damages and daily recorded criminal activity. Hurricanes are found to significantly increase crime by 35%, where the impact is stronger for more damaging storms, but this only lasts for the duration of the storm. Decomposing crime into its various subtypes, one finds that while aggravated assault, break-ins and shooting increases during a hurricane, murders, rapes, and robberies actually decline. The greatest increase is with shootings, while the greatest decline is with rape. Crucially, the impact of crime depends on the existence of a storm warning. Our results also show that high frequency data more accurately estimates the impact of hurricanes on crime.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-338
JournalSouthern Economic Journal
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019