No one can convincingly explain why crime rates are down, says Time magazine. Police chiefs credit improved police work. Demographers cite changing demographics of an aging population. Some theorists point to the evolution of the drug trade at both the wholesale and retail levels. Tufts University sociologist John Conklin argues that up to half of the improvement was due to a single factor: more people in prison.
Conklin believes that two statistics in particular–median age and the unemployment rate–help explain the ebb and flow of crime. Citing “The Wire,” Time notes that “in every American city, neighborhoods remain where violence still reigns and it simply isn’t safe to walk around.” There, Time says, “the crime problem isn’t solved; the fight is scarcely begun.”