Research Reveals Link between High Pollen Counts and Low Crime Rates

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"A large literature points out that exposure to criminal victimization has far-reaching effects on public health. What remains surprisingly unexplored is [the] role that health shocks play in explaining aggregate fluctuations in offending. This research finds novel evidence that crime is sensitive to health shocks. We consider the responsiveness of crime to a pervasive and common health shock which we argue shifts costs and benefits for offenders and victims: seasonal allergies. Leveraging daily variation in city-specific pollen counts, we present evidence that violent crime declines in U.S. cities on days in which the local pollen count is unusually high and that these effects are driven by residential violence. While past literature suggests that property crimes have more instrumental motives, require planning, and hence are particularly sensitive to permanent changes in the cost and benefits of crime, we find that violence may be especially sensitive to health shocks."

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