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Weather shocks, poverty and crime in 18th-century Savoy

Cédric Chambru

Explorations in Economic History, 2020, vol. 78, issue C

Abstract: Did weather shocks increase interpersonal conflict in early modern Europe? I address this question by exploiting year-to-year seasonal variations in temperature and detailed crime data assembled from Savoyard criminal procedures over the period 1749–92. I find that temperature shocks had a positive and significant effect on the level of property crimes, but a negative and significant effect on violent crimes. I further document how seasonal migration helped to increase the coping capacity of local communities. Indeed, migrant labour both brought in remittances that supplemented communities’ resources, as well as temporarily relieved impoverished households of the burden of feeding these workers. I show that while temperature shocks were strongly associated with an increase in property crime rates, the effect was much lower in provinces with high levels of seasonal migration. I provide historical evidence demonstrating that the inflow of remittances may have driven this relationship.

Keywords: Weather shocks; Migration; Crime; Grain prices; Savoy; 18th century (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J61 N33 N53 Q10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:exehis:v:78:y:2020:i:c:s0014498320300486

DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2020.101353

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