Crime

As Employment Falls, So Does Crime

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The other day Tim Cavanaugh noted that fears of a foreclosure-fed crime wave do not seem to have materialized in cities where large numbers of homes have been repossessed by lenders. Recent data from New York City cast further doubt on the more general idea that crime rises as economic conditions worsen. Although the city's unemployment rate, at 10.3 percent, is higher than the state and national averages, The New York Times reports, "the number of major crimes is continuing to fall this year in nearly every category, upending the common wisdom that hard times bring more crime." National figures also indicate that crime rates have continued to fall during the recession, which officially began in December 2007. Taking a longer view, "New York has seen a steady drop in crime over the last 16 years, through Wall Street booms and dot-com busts, amid the devastation of the Sept. 11 attack and the revitalization that followed." One criminologist tells the Times:

The idea that everyone has ingrained into them—that as the economy goes south, crime has to get worse—is wrong. It was never right to begin with.

Another academic is more cautious, saying that the evidence of a connection between economic conditions and crime is "rather equivocal" and that "the jury is still out on the impact of this most recent economic collapse." New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly suggests that one explanation for the lack of clarity is that most crime is not economically motivated:

People, generally speaking, are not committing crime to address a basic need for food or shelter. The economy goes up, the economy goes down—there's still an element of people who are committing crime not motivated by the economic environment that we all find ourselves in. 

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15 responses to “As Employment Falls, So Does Crime

  1. New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly suggests that one explanation for the lack of clarity is that most crime is not economically motivated:

    People, generally speaking, are not committing crime to address a basic need for food or shelter. The economy goes up, the economy goes down?there’s still an element of people who are committing crime not motivated by the economic environment that we all find ourselves in.

    Now that oughta get him on every Team Blue blacklist in the USA.

    Suggesting that criminals are not just victims of economic circumstances is begging for hate mail.

  2. So the Freakonomics author was right and it’s due to all the unwanted babies in the 70s and 80s being aborted?

  3. Don’t you think it is irresponsible that we are NOT talking abou Tiger Woods?

  4. The only correlation that shows in the numbers they give in the article is “less cops, less crime,” and the only unequivocal message is “more taxes, more cops.”

    That huge “There has been a decrease in overall crime in all but two of the city’s 76 police precincts” they leave just hanging out there silently probably has a story in it. Not the right one, though.

    Ah, the Times.

  5. Look what else is falling:

    The latest Gallup poll is full of astonishingly bad news for President Obama. This poll of adults shows majorities disapproving of his performance on every issue except energy policy and global warming.

    Obama Job Approval / Disapproval
    Energy Policy: 49 / 35
    Terrorism: 45 / 47
    Global Warming: 44 / 36
    The Economy: 44 / 53 (chart)
    Health Care: 40 / 53 (chart)
    Creating Jobs: 40 / 55
    The situation in Afghanistan: 35 / 55

    http://www.pollster.com/blogs/….._11202.php

  6. It could be partially due to most people just getting along?

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re…..111204.htm

  7. The drop seems to coincide with Obama’s run for president. Is there anything He can’t do?

    1. Compel you to find a job so we don’t have to pay to support you?

    2. I suppose it is less risky to vote for a Democrat than it is to steal outright.

  8. Give NYPD some credit. Effective policing using tools like CompStat works.

  9. Well, given the unique circumstances of NYC, I’d consider a decrease in employment a strong factor in decreasing the number of people in the city at any given time of day, which eliminates the opportunity for some people to be in the city to do crime, most of alll, and may attenuate employee behavior enough to increase the risk of other crime (too few people to watch the stock, so increase other security measures to compensate — suddenly that where that lost man wasn’t looking isn’t unprotected).

  10. Most criminials are not criminals because they are poor. They are criminals because they are stupid, lazy and looking for a quick buck, and such qualities have a high correlation with being poor.

  11. Have you seen the price of ammo lately? Besides, it’s much less risky to just let the government do the stealing and pass the booty on to you.

  12. One more nail in the coffin of the concept that crime is linked to economic position…

    1. Was not the Great Depression accompanied by the biggest crime wave in American history?

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