Can Year-Round Day Light Savings Time Reduce Crime?
Date:  11-04-2015

Research shows DST credited with S59 million in social cost savings from reduced number of robberies
Fighting crime with Daylight Saving Time

Via Brookings Brief 10-29-2015

On a seemingly-arbitrary Sunday each spring and fall, we all dutifully change our clocks by an hour, often griping about the hassle. Sometimes we do this only after missing an appointment, making the transition even worse. Even in a modern world where electronic devices update time for us, the shift of an hour messes with sleep patterns and daily routines – anyone with kids can tell you babies don't respect Daylight Saving Time (DST). Why even bother with the shift anymore? What's the point of moving an hour of sunlight into the evening?

On a seemingly-arbitrary Sunday each spring and fall, we all dutifully change our clocks by an hour, often griping about the hassle. Sometimes we do this only after missing an appointment, making the transition even worse. Even in a modern world where electronic devices update time for us, the shift of an hour messes with sleep patterns and daily routines – anyone with kids can tell you babies don't respect Daylight Saving Time (DST). Why even bother with the shift anymore? What's the point of moving an hour of sunlight into the evening?

In a new paper forthcoming in The Review of Economics and Statistics, we find that shifting daylight from the morning to the early evening has pretty hefty returns for public safety. When DST begins in the spring, robbery rates for the entire day fall an average of 7 percent, with a much larger 27 percent drop during the evening hour that gained some extra sunlight.

Why might this time shift matter? The timing of sunset is pretty close to the time many of us leave work, and walking to our cars or homes in the dark makes us easier targets for street criminals. We feel safer when we’re walking in the daylight, and it’s easy to imagine why light might have a deterrent effect on crime: offenders know they’re more likely to be recognized and get caught if they’re fully visible. The timing of sunset matters because our daily schedules can’t easily adapt to follow the daylight. Most people can’t leave work before 5pm, even if it would be safer to do so.

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Why might this time shift matter? The timing of sunset is pretty close to the time many of us leave work, and walking to our cars or homes in the dark makes us easier targets for street criminals. We feel safer when we’re walking in the daylight, and it’s easy to imagine why light might have a deterrent effect on crime: offenders know they’re more likely to be recognized and get caught if they’re fully visible. The timing of sunset matters because our daily schedules can’t easily adapt to follow the daylight. Most people can’t leave work before 5pm, even if it would be safer to do so.

Read more