This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crime Rate Drops in US--Age Structure NOT a factor

The FBI has reported that the crime rate in the United States has continued its downward trend, with a special note on the decline in violent crimes. This result is counter-intuitive in at least two respects: (1) there is a general sense that crime rates go up, not down, in bad economic times; and (2) historically there have been important links between changes in the age structure--especially the percentage of the population that is comprised of young men. Yet, the Great Recession is associated with declining crime and, at the same time, the percentage of the population in the US that is aged 15-24 has remained quite steady for the past twenty years. So, if those economic and demographic changes cannot explain the drop in the crime rate, what is the explanation?
Attorney General Eric Holder said the new figures showed that federal law enforcement agencies had made progress on the crime fighting priorities of President Barack Obama's administration.
"We've targeted gang leadership in communities from Florida to New York, and from Tennessee to North Carolina," he said in a statement. "We've renewed our commitment to fighting organized crime, whether it is traditional La Cosa Nostra or Mexican drug cartels."
The only problem with the Obama Administration taking credit is that the decline in crime rates goes back to previous administrations, so no one can really take full credit. For the moment, the answer has to be that it is not clear to me, at least, why the crime rate has been dropping, but I haven't heard anyone complaining about it.

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