Skip to main content

Climate change and interpersonal violence: a “global” estimate and regional inequities


This study estimates the predicted impact of climate change on levels of violence in a sample of 57 countries. We sample western and non-western countries and perform a multilevel ARFIMA regression to examine if warmer temperatures are associated with higher levels of homicide. Our results indicate that each degree Celsius increase in annual temperatures is associated with a nearly 6 % average increase in homicides. Regional variation in this predicted effect is detected, for example, with no apparent effects in former Soviet countries and far stronger effects found in Africa. Such variation indicates that climate change may acutely increase violence in areas that already are affected by higher levels of homicides and other social dislocations.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Please refer to the supplementary materials for more details on the data and analysis.

  2. 2.

    Many smaller countries with infrequent homicides and a small population were excluded. Please see the Appendix for more details.

  3. 3.

    The Appendix outlines the practical steps we took to select sites and temperature readings.

  4. 4.

    Baseline models with temperature as the only independent variable are available in the Appendix.

  5. 5.

    The Appendix furnishes additional information on all variables, including a correlation matrix between the dependent variable and all independent variables. The Appendix also includes several independent variables that we did not use in the models reported here. Moreover, we provide a selection of models that include at least some of these independent variables in the Appendix.

  6. 6.

    Countries included in our sample: Algeria, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay, United States, and Venezuela.

  7. 7.

    We estimated a fixed effects models using the same independent variables as those contained in Table 1. The results are substantially similar to those that are reported here, and are contained in the Appendix.

  8. 8.

    We estimated a multilevel model, without using the ARFIMA technique using the same independent variables as those contained in Table 1. The results are substantially similar to those that are reported here, and are contained in the Appendix.

  9. 9.

    For more precise calculations of unit and standard deviation change effects, please refer to the supplementary materials.

  10. 10.

    The supplemental materials provide more information about and the specific results of the models referenced in this paragraph.

  11. 11.

    Some of these results are modeled in the Appendix (i.e., country/year fixed effects and removing one control variable at a time), or are contained in the supplemental materials.

  12. 12.

    These same robustness checks were run on the fixed effects and multilevel modeling (without ARFIMA) techniques that are referenced in earlier parts of this paper. The results are strikingly similar to those that are reported here.


  1. Abbott C (2008) An uncertain future: law enforcement, national security and climate change. Fride, Madrid

    Google Scholar 

  2. Agnew R (2011) Dire forecast: a theoretical model of the impact of climate change on crime. Theor Criminol 15:1–22

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Anderson CA (1989) Temperature and aggression. Psych Bull 106:74–96

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Anderson E (1999) The code of the street. Norton, New York

    Google Scholar 

  5. Anderson CA, Anderson KB (1998) In: Geen RG, Donnerstein ED (eds) Human aggression: theories, research, and implications for social policy. Academic, San Diego, pp 247–298

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  6. Anderson CA, Delisi G (2011) In: Krugianski A, Williams K (eds) The psychology of social conflict and aggression. Psychology Press, New York, pp 249–265

    Google Scholar 

  7. Anderson CA, Bushman BJ, Groom RW (1997) Hot years and serious and deadly assault. J Pers Soc Psych 73:1213–1223

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Anderson CA, Anderson KB, Dorr N, DeNeve KM, Flanagan KMM (2000) In: Zanna MP (ed) Experimental social psychology, vol. 32. Academic, New York, pp 63–133

    Google Scholar 

  9. Archer D, Rahmstorf S (2010) The climate crisis. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  10. Barnett J (2003) Security and climate change. Glob Environ Change 13:7–17

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Baron RA (1972) Aggression as a function of ambient and prior anger arousal. J Pers Soc Psych 21:333–376

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Baron RA, Bell PA (1976) Aggression and heat. J Pers Soc Psych 33:245–255

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Baumer E, Wright E (1996) Crime seasonality and serious scholarship. Brit J Criminol 36:579–581

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Bell PA, Baron RA (1976) Aggression and heat. J App Soc Psych 3:18–30

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Blakeslee DS, Fishman R (2014) Weather shocks, crime and agriculture: evidence from India, (Social Science Research Network, 2014,

  16. Breetzke GD, Cohn EG (2011) Seasonal assault and neighborhoods deprivation in South Africa. Environ Behav 20:1–27

    Google Scholar 

  17. Buhaug H, Gleditsch HP, Theisen OM (2008) Implications of climate change for armed conflict. The World Bank, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  18. Bushman BJ, Wang MC, Anderson CA (2005a) Is the curve relating temperature to aggression linear or curvilinear? J Person Soc Psych 89:62–66

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Bushman BJ, Wang MC, Anderson CA (2005b) Is the curve relating temperature to aggression linear or curvilinear? a response to Bell (2005) and to Cohn and Rotton (2005). J Person Soc Psych 89:74–77

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Ceccato V (2005) Homicide in Sao Paolo, Brazil. J Environ Psych 25:307–321

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Cohen L, Felson M (1979) Social change and crime rate trends: a routine activity approach. Am Sociol Rev 44:588–608

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Cohn EG, Rotton J (1997) Assault as a function of time and temperature. J Pers Soc Psych 72:1322–1334

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Cohn EG, Rotton J (2000) Weather, seasonal trends and property crimes in Minneapolis, 1987–1988. J Environ Psych 20:257–277

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Cohn EG, Rotton J (2003) Even criminals take a holiday. J Crim Justice 31:351–360

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Cohn EG, Rotton J (2005) The curve is still out there. J Person Soc Psych 89:67–70

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Decker SH, van Winkle B (1996) Life in the gang. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Book  Google Scholar 

  27. Dell M, Jones BF, Olken BA (2014) What do we learn from the Weather? the new climate-economy literature. J Eco Lit 52:740–798

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Farrell G, Pease K (1994) Crime seasonality: domestic disputes and residential burglary in Merseyside 1988–90. Brit J Criminol 34:487–498

    Google Scholar 

  29. Gelman A, Hill J (2007) Data analysis using regression and multi-level/hierarchical models. Cambridge University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  30. Hendrix CS, Glaser SM (2007) Trends and triggers: climate change and civil conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa. Pol Geo 26:695–715

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Hipp JR, Bauer DJ, Curran PJ, Bollen KA (2004) Crimes of opportunity or crimes of emotion? Soc Forces 82:1333–1372

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Hsiang SM, Burke M (2014) Climate, conflict, and social stability, Clim. Change 123:39–55

    Google Scholar 

  33. Hsiang SM, Meng KC, Cane MA (2011) Civil conflicts are associated with the global climate. Nature 476: 438--441

  34. Hsiang SM, Burke M, Miguel E (2013) Quantifying the influence of climate on human conflict. Science 341:1212–1226

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Ikegaya H, Suganami H (2008) Correlation between climate and crime in Eastern Tokyo. Can J Criminol Crim Justice 50:225–238

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Karl TR, Melillo JM, Peterson TC (eds) (2009) Global climate change impacts in the United States. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  37. Kenrick DR, MacFarlane SW (1986) Ambient temperature and horn honking. Environ Behav 18:179–181

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. LaFree G, Tseloni A (2006) Democracy and crime. Ann AAPS 605:26–49

    Google Scholar 

  39. Landis ST (2014) Temperature seasonality and violent conflict. J Peace Res 51:603–618

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Lebeau JL (1990) The oscillation of police calls to domestic disputes with time and the temperature humidity index, J. Crim Justice 27:149–161

    Google Scholar 

  41. Lebeau JL, Corcoran WT (1994) Changes in calls for service with changes in routine activities and the arrival and passage of weather fronts. J Quant Criminol 6:269–291

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Lebeau JL, Langworthy R (1986) The linkages between routine activities, weather and calls for police services. J Police Sci Admin 14:137–145

    Google Scholar 

  43. Lebo MJ, Weber C (2015) An effective approach to the repeated cross-sectional design. Am J Polit Sci 59:242–258

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Liem M, Ganpat S, Granath S, Hagsted H, Kivivuori J, Lethti M, Nieuwbeerta P (2013) Homicide in Finland, The Netherlands and Sweden. Homicide Stud 17:75–95

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Mares D (2009) Civilization, economic change, and trends in interpersonal violence in western societies. Theor Criminol 13:419–449

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Mares D (2013a) Climate change and levels of violence in socially disadvantaged neighborhood groups. J Urb Health 90:768–783

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Mares D (2013b) Climate change and crime. Crime, Law Soc Change 59:185–208

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Martinez R (2014) Latino homicide. Routledge, New York

    Google Scholar 

  49. Messner S, Rosenfeld R (1997) Political restraints of the market and levels of criminal homicide. Soc Forces 75:1393–1416

  50. Ouimet M (2012) A world of homicides. Homicide Stud 16:238–258

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Ouimet M, Montmagny-Grenier C (2014) Homicide and violence: International and cross national Research. Inter Crim Justice Rev 24:222–234

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Pratt TC, Godsey TW (2003) Social support, inequality, and homicide. Criminology 41:611–644

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Quetelet A (1842) A treatise on man and the development of his faculties. Burt Franklin, New York

    Google Scholar 

  54. Ranson M (2014) Crime, weather, and climate change. J Envir Eco Manag 67:274–302

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Reifman AS, Larrick RP, Fein S (1991) Temper and temperature on the diamond. Pers Soc Psych Bull 17:580–585

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Rosenfeld R (2000) In: Blumstein A, Wallman J (eds) The crime drop in America. Cambridge University Press, New York, pp 130–163

    Google Scholar 

  57. Rosenfeld R, Messner S (1997) Political restraint of the market and levels of criminal homicide. Soc Forces 75:1393–1416

    Google Scholar 

  58. Rotton J, Cohn EG (2000) Violence is a curvilinear function of temperature in Dallas. J Person Soc Psych 78:1074–1081

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Rotton J, Cohn EG (2003) Global warming and U.S. crime rates. Envir Behav 35:802–825

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Stowell JI, Messner SF, McGeever KF, Raffalovich LE (2009) Immigration and the recent violent crime drop in the United States. Criminology 47:889–928

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Tol RSJ, Wagner S (2010) Climate change and violent conflict in Europe over the last millennium. Clim Change 99:65–79

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Varano S, Schafer JA, Cancino JM, Decker SH, Greene JR (2010) A tale of three cities. J Crim Justice 38:42–50

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Venkatesh S (2006) Off the books. Harvard University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  64. Wadsworth T (2010) Is immigration responsible for the crime drop? Soc Sci Quart 91:531–553

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Wilson WJ (1987) The truly disadvantaged. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

    Google Scholar 

  66. World Health Organization (WHO) (2006) Interpersonal violence and alcohol in the Russian Federation. policy briefing. WHO, Violence and Injury Prevention Programme, Rome

    Google Scholar 

  67. Zahran S, O’Connor Shellley T, Peek L, Brody SD (2009) Natural disasters and social order. Int J Mass Emerg Disas 27:26–52

    Google Scholar 

Download references


The data used for this study are described and accessible through the Appendix and supplementary materials sections.

The research in this manuscript was supported by an internal seed grant received from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville by the corresponding author.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dennis M. Mares.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.


(DOCX 63 kb)


(XLSX 19 kb)


(DOCX 16 kb)


(XLSX 19 kb)


(TXT 84 kb)


(TXT 413 kb)


(CSV 300 kb)


(TXT 33 kb)


(TXT 140 kb)

ESM 10

(TXT 162 kb)

ESM 11

(TXT 174 kb)

ESM 12

(TXT 24 kb)

ESM 13

(TXT 181 kb)

ESM 14

(TXT 164 kb)

ESM 15

(R 4 kb)

ESM 16

(R 3 kb)

ESM 17

(R 3 kb)

ESM 18

(TXT 126 kb)

ESM 19

(R 14 kb)

ESM 20

(R 38 kb)

ESM 21

(R 16 kb)

ESM 22

(R 18 kb)

ESM 23

(R 16 kb)

ESM 24

(R 17 kb)

ESM 25

(R 13 kb)

ESM 26

(TXT 22 kb)

ESM 27

(DTA 523 kb)

ESM 28

(DO 48 kb)

ESM 29

(LOG 694 kb)

ESM 30

(DO 944 bytes)

ESM 31

(LOG 10 kb)

ESM 32

(DTA 611 kb)

ESM 33

(DO 77 kb)

ESM 34

(LOG 1808 kb)

ESM 35

(DO 1 kb)

ESM 36

(LOG 26 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Mares, D.M., Moffett, K.W. Climate change and interpersonal violence: a “global” estimate and regional inequities. Climatic Change 135, 297–310 (2016).

Download citation


  • Climate Change
  • Land Surface Temperature
  • Interpersonal Violence
  • Homicide Rate
  • Routine Activity Theory