Abstract

This paper provides evidence of the causal effect of church attendance on petty crime by using quasi-random variation in the number of Sundays when it precipitated at the specific time of most religious services. Using a novel strategy, I find a narrow time window when most individuals attend church. Based on a panel between 1980 and 2016, I find that one more Sunday with precipitation at the time of church increases yearly drug-related, alcohol-related and white-collar crimes. I do not find an effect for violent or property crimes. These effects are driven by more religious counties. Previous evidence showing negative effects of church attendance on the demand for alcohol and drugs is consistent with a demand-driven interpretation of the results presented.

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