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Why did crime drop in the 90's? (Hint: It wasnt gun laws)

Discussion in 'Legal & Political Archive' started by meener777, Sep 30, 2013.

  1. meener777

    meener777 King County Active Member

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    This is a great paper by economist Steven Levitt (Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, co-author of Freakonomics, John Bates Clark Medal recipient) where he looks for explanations for the sharp drop in crime in the United States from 1991-2001. He examines ten factors to determine how well they (statistically) explain the drop, including the strong 90's economy, advances in policing strategies, gun laws (two types), capital punishment, number of police, larger prison populations, the decline of crack cocaine, and legalized abortion.

    His conclusion (table 5 if you want the quick summary) is that increases in police force size and prison population, the decline of crack, and legalized abortion could explain almost all of the observed drop in crime, and that economic factors, capital punishment, and new police strategies also played a role (an extremely small one). Gun laws (both types) accounted for 0.00% of the observed effect.

    Published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 18, Number 1, Winter 2004
    http://pricetheory.uchicago.edu/levitt/Papers/LevittUnderstandingWhyCrime2004.pdf
     
  2. mrblond

    mrblond Salem OR Well-Known Member

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    interesting read
     
  3. Steve M

    Steve M Beaverton, OR Well-Known Member

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    It's real easy to reduce crime - make everything legal.

    I can't support immoral actions and laws simply because they reduce the crime rate.
     
  4. Kevinkris

    Kevinkris Aloha Well-Known Member

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    actually it was gun laws expiring.
     
  5. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie Vancouver Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I read about this in Freakonomics. They really did their level best to sell that they aren't biased, but there's definitely an agenda here. Social engineering is dangerous, it always has been, and always will be. It's veiled behind a mask of Altruism, nobility and reason, but completely Arrogant, evil, corrupt and vile at it's core. It Exchanges the value of individuals for the value of the state, it turns neighbor against neighbor for the sake of the cause, kids ratting out their own parents. It is exchanging convenience for personal responsibility, there is no social or economic paradigm, anywhere in in history, that has ever prospered and endured as a result of this exchange.
     
  6. chemist

    chemist Beaverton OR Well-Known Member

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    There's no doubt we need prison reform, and that the current climate with its draconian laws sweeps up many people who shouldn't be locked away.
    HOWEVER -
    Those laws also serve to sweep up the minority of criminals who cause the biggest problem: the ones who engage in most of the "confrontation crime." I'm not saying it excuses or justifies the incarceration of a larger fraction of Americans than the citizens of any other country, but it is the case nonetheless. Lock up a bad guy and a new one doesn't magically re-spawn.

    The other big factor is demographics - our population is aging, and serious, violent crime (other than domestic violence) is almost exclusively a young man's game. A young, single man's game, in fact. I recall a Dilbert cartoon where Dogbert was working the talk-show circuit to pump his idea of "preventive incarceration" of all unmarried young men. The host asks, "What about those who marry to escape your dragnet?" His response: "Serves 'em right."
     
    meener777 and (deleted member) like this.
  7. simon99

    simon99 Central Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I would seriously be interested in seeing what the stats are today.
    The summary points being compared to 2013 -
    Police force and size - probably nearly the same as some depts. have gotten smaller with budget constraints
    Prison population - Increase?
    Decline of crack cocaine - Meth is the new street drug of choice
    Legalized abortion - ?
    Economic factors - Much worse now

    Interesting to think about.
     
  8. Misterbill

    Misterbill Yakima County, Washington New Member

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    Actually, everything in the OP is demonstrably true. (And for you religious zealots, yes, Abortion is cheaper than welfare and a LOT cheaper than prison cells, so when you guys start calling for more social spending on welfare and head-start, I'll take your anti-abortion stances seriously).

    Chemist also nailed it with this:
    We KNOW how to reduce crime. And BTW, you're safer as an American today than at any time in the last several DECADES.

    What makes us safer is better schools, more economic opportunity, enforcing with RUTHLESS ABANDON the laws targeting primarily dangerous felons and as a society bloody well INSISTING that people are responsible for their actions.

    You want to reduce violent crime? Get federal task forces enforcing the GCA1968 with it's penalties for felons in possession of guns.

    Real simple: 66% of murders EVERY year, year in, year out, are committed with guns. FACT.
    Every year, year in, year out, 90% of those convicted for murder are already CONVICTED FELONS.

    Do the math. It ain't complicated. Keep the felons in jail for longer periods, enforce the laws against felons with firearms with their federal penalties = MUCH lower crime rate.

    ALL the rest is piddling around the edges.

    Like I said, it ain't rocket science.