Saturday, October 31, 2015

Would making Daylight Savings Time permanent reduce crime?

Would making Daylight Savings Time permanent reduce crime? Reported the Houston Chronicle's Mike Glenn (Oct. 30):
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.

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.
See more detail from Brookings. There's a certain logic to the argument, to be sure:
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.

"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."
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."

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.


Anonymous said...

Grits, I've no faith that any time convention will 'reduce crime' as criminals are nothing if not adaptive.
ST/DST is nothing but fedgov teaching us a lesson in obedience, change those clocks now change them again.
Choose a time convention and stick to it, dammit!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I don't have "faith" it will reduce crime, but if the evidence demonstrates that it does, I'm willing to accept it. IMO, more daylight during the hours most crime is committed is the sort of structural change that could have an impact at the margins, the same way that encouraging foot traffic in an area reduces crime, and for the same reason - it's more likely the malefactors will be seen.

Anonymous said...

It would also increase sales for retail stores. Many single older females do not feel comfortable shopping after dark.

john said...

Why do jackasses like that get paid to study total horse-hockey???
It's always been preposterous, but having spend OUR WHOLE LIVES learning it, it was another cruel Bush Cabal joke to forc3e us to change it a few weeks, on both ends. (This I suppose was a big globalist joke for them, having not destroyed any of our cities, or foreign countries outside the mid-ease, lately.)
There were always excuses--school kids, when McDo had breakfast, old folks can't see to drive, etc.--for having time change, in the first place. Idiots and assholes rule.
There should be no more time wasted figuring or changing. Those studying and working on it should be fired, at least. A few of the dick-head dictator countries set THEIR time zone a half hour between the rest of the world. Bastards like the U.N.
IT'S EXACTLY LIKE GETTING A NEW VERSION OF MICROSOFT PRODUCTS (always crap). IT WASTES UNIMAGINABLE EXPENSIVE TIME. The rich like to mess with us, that's all. Eat the rich.

Anonymous said...

john, it's funny you should mention a horse when my first thought on the subject was "it's easy to figure which end of the horse this came from".

So, those bad criminals, the ones we jail in record numbers, mostly for victimless crimes, only react to day and night and can't get the hang of changing clocks.

No man, this comes out of the south end of a north facing bull. I wish busting my butt every day paid as well as what bureaucrats make. Of course, I build things so my time has little value, whereas if I simply made up compost I'd be rolling in dough. Give me a frickin break.

Gadfly said...

Actually, it's not a relic from America's rural past, Grits, and farmers in general hate DST.

It's a relic from World War I.

The Germans adopted it first, and if it was something the stereotypically efficient Germans thought would work, well, everybody else felt bound to follow.

Anonymous said...

I'm not touching any of my clocks or watches this year in protest. I might be late or early depending on the actual time. Oh Snap! My watch stopped. Anyone that just happens to have some spare time on their hands, please tell me where I can go in order to find out what time it is?