Right-thinking lefties everywhere have had their knickers in a twist over the House Republican proposal to curtail National Science Foundation funding for social science (especially politicalscience), while maintaining funding for the “hard” sciences like physics, chemistry, etc.
Well, perhaps papers like the one from Matthew Ranson, posted the other day on the Social Science Research Network, suggests why someone might look askance at social science, whether funded by the government or not. To paraphrase that great line from Randall Jarrell, you have to read it not to believe it. Herewith the abstract to “Crime, Weather, and Climate Change”:
This paper estimates the impact of climate change on the prevalence of criminal activity in the United States. The analysis is based on a 50-year panel of monthly crime and weather data for 2,972 U.S. counties. I identify the effect of weather on monthly crime by using a semi-parametric bin estimator and controlling for county-by-month and county-by-year fixed effects. The results show that temperature has a strong positive effect on criminal behavior, with little evidence of lagged impacts. Between 2010 and 2099, climate change will cause an additional 30,000 murders, 200,000 cases of rape, 1.4 million aggravated assaults, 2.2 million simple assaults, 400,000 robberies, 3.2 million burglaries, 3.0 million cases of larceny, and 1.3 million cases of vehicle theft in the United States.
Now, the idea that climate change would lead to more crime isn’t exactly brand new—it’s been on the infamous WarmList of all the things caused or made worse by climate change for some time now (though the Warmlist link to previous crime predictions has gone dead). And it makes some intuitive sense: of course assaults go up in hot weather.