What’s behind the collapse of crime?

Date posted: September 3, 2013

Crime still exists, but the frequency of crime is down — way down. And crime is not just lower in the U.S., but it’s also much less all over the developed world. What are the reasons? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden responds.

“And this is one of those good news items that for some reason has flown under the radar that a lot of people aren’t worried about it because the statistics are very clear. Crime rates across the board and across the world are down.

“Several reasons potentially explain that. One is simply demographics. Most crimes are committed by young people — that’s just a fact — people between 16 and 24. And the relative size of that demographic group is down. Ten years ago that was huge.

“Now those folks have aged. They’re moving into school. They’re moving into working. Better policing is also probably part of the answer, particularly using modern technology to anticipate where crime could occur and to prevent it and to apprehend potential criminals. That’s been a big change using technology over the last couple of decades.

“Preventative measures on the private level like burglar alarms and security systems, they certainly also help. And then — very interesting — some people say that higher gas prices actually help. You might say, ‘Well how so?’  Well, higher gas prices in many metropolitan areas have motivated people to move closer in, back to the inner city where traditionally crime has been an issue. So, those inner city neighborhoods have been revitalized, and crime has gone down.”

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