Association between ambient temperature and sex offense: A case-crossover study in seven large US cities, 2007–2017

Elsevier, Sustainable Cities and Society, Volume 69, June 2021
Authors: 
Xu R., Xiong X., Abramson M.J., Li S., Guo Y.

There is an increasing interest in the link between ambient temperature and sexual crime in the context of climate change. However, existing studies are limited in evaluating the acute effect of temperature and rarely estimate the attributable burden. Here, we show that in seven large US cities, every 5 °C rise in daily mean temperature was associated with a 4.5 % [95 % confidence interval (CI): 2.8–6.3 %] increase in sex offenses in the following 0–8 days. The associations were stronger in hot and cold season compared to moderate season, and could be enhanced by higher relative humidity and precipitation. The associations were only significant for sodomy, fondling and rape, and for sex offenses happened in certain locations (open space, education, street but not residence). We estimated that 2.6 % (95 %CI: 1.7–3.6 %) sex offenses were attributable to temperatures above city-specific median temperatures, corresponding to a mean annual sex offense rate of 2.9/100,000 (95 %CI: 1.9–4.0/100,000). Our findings highlight the potential rising sexual crime along with climate change and provide useful information for targeted preventions.