Under the Cover of Darkness: How Ambient Light Influences Criminal Activity Academic Article uri icon


  • 2015 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2015. We exploit daylight saving time (DST) as an exogenous shock to daylight, using both the discontinuous nature of the policy and the 2007 extension of DST, to consider the impact of light on criminal activity. Regression discontinuity estimates show a 7% decrease in robberies following the shift to DST. As expected, effects are largest during the hours directly affected by the shift in daylight. We discuss our findings within the context of criminal decision making and labor supply, and estimate that the 2007 DST extension resulted in $59 million in annual social cost savings from avoided robberies.

published proceedings

  • The Review of Economics and Statistics

altmetric score

  • 1321.564

author list (cited authors)

  • Doleac, J. L., & Sanders, N. J.

citation count

  • 78

complete list of authors

  • Doleac, Jennifer L||Sanders, Nicholas J

publication date

  • December 2015