In this study, Edward Miguel analyzes the relationship between witch killings and extreme weather that particularly affects the livelihoods of the poor in Tanzania. What he finds suggests that witch killings might be related to the desperation people feel when things go wrong.
This study uses rainfall variation to estimate the impact of income shocks on murder in rural Tanzania. Extreme rainfall (drought or flood) leads to a large increase in the murder of "witches"--typically elderly women killed by relatives--but not other murders. The findings provide novel evidence on the role of income shocks in causing violent crime, and religious violence in particular.