This is the fifth in a series from Dana Goldstein of the Justice Lab at The Marshall Project, Top 10 (Not Entirely Crazy) Theories Explaining the Great Crime Decline:
Historians agree that the crime wave of the 1960s and 1970s had a lot to do with the baby boom: There were more young men than ever before, and young men are the people who commit most crimes. As the boomers aged out of trouble in the early 1980s, crime fell. But from 1992 to today, the period of the crime decline, there was no significant decrease in the number of young men in the United States. This suggests the size of the youth population is no longer a major driver of crime.
A small caveat: Some experts believe the growth in the population over the age of 50 has contributed to better public safety, because there are more adults monitoring young people’s behavior. “My sense is that there is some connection there,” Rosenfeld says, but if so, it would account for only a small percentage of the crime drop.