The Washington Post reports that an economics researcher has compiled compelling evidence that replacing lead pipes in New York decades ago had more to do with the city’s remarkable decrease in crime than the hard-nosed police policies of former Mayor and Republican Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. Crime did fall dramatically in New York during Giuliani’s term, but Rick Nevin, an economist in Fairfax, VA, has published a series of little-noticed papers that suggest the “New York miracle” was caused by local and federal efforts decades earlier to reduce lead poisoning.
Nevin’s theory is that lead poisoning accounts for much of the variation in violent crime in the United States. What makes his work persuasive, the Post says, is that Nevin has shown an identical, decades-long association between lead poisoning and crime rates in nine countries. “It is stunning how strong the association is,” Nevin said in an interview.