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This paper examines the impact of weather shocks on crime in Pernambuco-Northeast, one of the states most affected by climate disasters in the Brazilian semi-arid region. We show that precipitation and temperature shocks in the form of droughts have a significant impact on the increase of rates of intentional lethal violent crimes (ILVC), property crimes (PC), and homicides. The effects of precipitation fluctuations in the form of droughts persist beyond the agricultural season and in the medium-term, and vary according to municipal and criminological characteristics. Moreover, adverse weather conditions (e.g., droughts) have a greater impact on income-related crimes. Consistent with this evidence, we find that the persistent response of crime rates to adverse weather conditions is driven by negative shocks to rural income, followed by a deterioration in overall economic activity, urban labor market conditions, and the government’s ability to provide public goods. The patterns we identify align with a relationship between weather and crime explained by reduced opportunity costs associated with criminal activity. Regarding policy recommendations, our findings suggest that local governments should prioritize investments in water infrastructure, agricultural irrigation, expansion of water coverage, and conservation of forested areas. These measures can contribute to climate adaptation and mitigate the economic impact of weather shocks on crime.

PACS: O1, O13, Q54


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