Daylight saving time will come to an end at 2 a.m. Sunday, but a pair of researchers say crime across the nation could drop and millions of dollars could be saved if everyone forgot to fall back and just made it permanent.See more detail from Brookings. There's a certain logic to the argument, to be sure:
Shifting daylight from the morning to the early evening has "pretty hefty returns for public safety," authors Jennifer Doleac and Nicholas Sanders wrote in Brookings about their upcoming paper in The Review of Economics and Statistics.
"When (daylight saving time) begins in the spring, robbery rates for the entire day fall an average of seven percent, with a much larger 27 percent drop during the evening hour that gained some extra sunlight," they wrote.
The study found that most crime occurred in the evening, generally between 5 to 8 p.m. Adding an extra hour of daylight would help to reduce crime, they said.But a natural experiment created by Congress allowed them to test the hypothesis with data: "In 2007, Congress extended daylight saving time by four weeks - three in the spring and one in the fall - to reduce energy consumption. The researchers said the extension saved $59 million in avoided social costs by reducing the number of evening robberies."
"We feel safer when we're walking in the daylight," they wrote. "Offenders know they're more likely to be recognized and get caught if they're fully visible."
If the data truly demonstrate it reduces crime, making Daylight Savings Time permanent makes lots of sense. I'm tempted to use the phrase "common sense," but in general Grits finds most common-sense positions suffer from a striking lack of self-awareness about their shortcomings - sort of the public-policy equivalent of anosognosia. In this case, though, there's a data-driven analysis to support a common-sense view.
The anachronistic, seasonal daylight-savings time system held over into the 21st century as a relic from America's rural past. For a nation of townies, setting a single, uniform time standard based on maximizing public safety seems like a wise, overdue move. At a minimum, it would stop everyone misusing CST/CDT when they designate meeting times. I'm convinced most folks just guess.