Why Does Crime Continue Falling In A Poor Economy?


Experts are hard pressed to explain why violent crime reports are down for the third straight year and property crime reports for the seventh, says the Associated Press. The trend is “one of these welcome puzzles,” says criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, president of the American Society of Criminology. “This is forcing us to think more seriously under what conditions economic activity influences crime.”

One theory is that as overall economic activity slows, more people who otherwise would be at work are unemployed and at home, and when they travel they are not so likely to carry items of value, so burglaries and street robberies decline. In the 1970s and early 1980s, when the economy went south crime rates went up. Inflation was high then, low now. James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, said economic conditions “could come back to haunt us” because of a nearly 10 percent drop per capita in police budgets in the past few years. “There is a connection between the economy and crime rates, but it’s not that when the economy is bad, people go out and commit crime,” said Fox. “When the economy is bad, there are budget cuts. Less is spent on youth crime prevention and crime control on the street.”

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