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mush-mindedness, george will and crime reduction root causes

buried in an enjoyable new york times profile piece on economist steven levitt , i find a reference to a new paper he's working on that discusses the causual factors related to crime reduction in the 90s.

how timely, i think to myself, since kris and i were debating crime statistics on sunday prompted by a snarky george will commentary on how the new york times keeps printing the same article year after year in which they repeatedly ask why prison populations are on the rise despite a slight drop in crime. in george's humble opinion, it's obvious that this is liberal mush-mindedness at its best, for any idiot can plainly see that there is a drop in crime because more criminals are in prison.

of course, george was really presenting the theory that people who want to build prisons usually put forth and presenting it as an undisputed fact that soft minds are incapabale of grasping. george's snarkiness aside, me wondered, what was the truth?

well, inasmuch as it may or may not be the truth, via the power of google , you can get your own prepublication copy of "Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Seven That Do Not" and discover why george might be right:

"Crime fell sharply and unexpectedly in the United States in the 1990s. This paper examines the competing explanations as to why crime fell. I conclude that four factors can collectively explain the entire drop in crime: increases in the number of police, increases in the size of the prison population, the waning of the crack epidemic, and the legalization of abortion in the 1970s. A wide range of other possible explanations do not appear to have played an important role: the strong economy, changing demographics, innovative policing strategies, gun control laws, concealed weapons laws, increased use of capital punishment, and crime prevention programs. While some future crime reduction remains a strong possibility, it is unlikely that the impressive rates of decline of the last decade will continue."
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8/04/2003 08:47:00 PM 0 comments


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