The Impact of Climate on Crime Rates

by Julia Newman (’19)

Fig. 1: Both temperature and aggression levels increase the closer you move to the equator.

Previous data has shown that overall levels of aggression increase as you move closer to the equator, with Central America showing a murder rate over twenty people greater than that in European countries, but a definitive reasoning has yet to be found. Scientists have suggested that high temperatures cause increased heart rate and blood pressure leading to anger; others have pointed out the effect of warmer temperatures on increasing social interactions that may lead to aggressive or violent acts.

However, scientists at Vrije University in Amsterdam have developed a more evolutionary-based theory for this worldwide trend. High temperatures tend to induce short-term thinking and cause people to focus on the present, especially when there is little variation in climate, causing a lack of self-control and increased aggression levels. People located in cooler climates that experience seasonal change are much more likely to have strong self-control due to their focus on the future. While this theory does seem promising, further studies would have to look into the impact of other factors such as childhood environment on self-control and aggression.



  1. Van Lange, et al., Aggression and violence around the world: a model of climate, aggression, and self-control in humans. Cambridge University Press (2016).
  2. Photo retrieved from:

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