Saturday, June 4, 2011

Falling Crime Rates: Plausible Explanations?

Professor James Alan Fox recently wrote in the Boston Globe, that there are a number of "plausible explanations to account for the downturn in lawlessness that this nation has enjoyed since the early 1990s." Fox suggests the same factors that have been repeated by experts over the last fifteen years:

•the calmer aftermath of the late-1980s crack epidemic that had caused city crime levels to spike until the drug market shifted;
•improved police strategies that rely heavily on innovative technology and sophisticated crime analysis tools;
•expanded use of incarceration along with longer sentences that have kept more criminals off the streets; and
•the graying of America whereby the fastest growing segment of the population are the aging "baby-boomers" who are now over 50 years old and hardly babies anymore.

Fox also goes to great lengths to debunk a theory that has been around for awhile raised by Steven Levitt--the abortion theory of lower crime rates.

Fox does concede that he is "baffled" by the short-term plunge in crime from the first half of 2009 to the first half of 2010, especially the 6.2% drop in violent crime that included a 7.1% dip in murder. Fox writes, "there is nothing even close to definitive that can account for such a large reduction over such a limited time period (other than the natural fluctuations inherent of short-term trends)."

Tomorrow, I will post my theory behind declining crime rates when I post my Sunday column in the Youngstown Vindicator.

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