The New York Times examines why crime fell in New York City

In yesterday’s New York Times, Mike McIntyre writes about the reasons crime has fallen in New York City. Most of the article is about how Mayor Bloomberg claims credit for his police department. The article then goes on to say:

Academic experts cite several plausible contributors to the nationwide trend, including an aging population (young men are responsible for most crimes), the end of the crack cocaine epidemic, an improving economy and rising rates of homeownership in urban areas.

Anybody notice any factors missing from that list? Like, maybe, the increase in the prison population or legalized abortion, which I claim are the two most important drivers of the decline in crime?


Rob Mayoff

An aging population would be caused in part by legalized abortion.

Anonymous

Not true--you missed the discussion earlier that legalized abortion has not had much of an impact on fertility rates: women are still having roughly the same number of children over their life cycles. They are just having them later in life.

Anonymous

Media Pacification (internet, video games, cheap audio/visual production capabilities, etc) are significant, I believe.

I haven't read your book, although I have noticed its crazy popularity where I work.

In rural areas, the Incarceration Industry may be booming, and taking out a lot of urban Law Breakers. Also providing a lot of New Jobs to unemployed Agricultural People. But it also seems to be where all the meth labs are.

The stuff about abortion has been touted by (former) Minneapolis Police Chief Anthony Bouza for years. It isn't a new idea, dubious as it is, but I applaud you for getting it out where arch-hypocrite William Bennet ("values" maven, and "Drug Czar" while Bush #1 was importing/distributing cocaine into the U.S.) could use it to hang himself.

Steve Sailer

Maybe the New York Times didn't want to get raked over the coals like Bill Bennett has been for citing your abortion-cut-crime theory because it has always had, since your original December 1998 draft paper, a sizable racial eugenics/eucultural aspect. For example, you wrote and Donohue wrote in late 1998:

"The selective-abortion channel will operate if the women who have abortions are those most at risk to give birth to children who would engage in criminal activity. Women who choose to have abortions are not a random subset of all pregnant women; teenagers, unmarried women, and African-Americans are all substantially more likely to seek abortions (Levine et al. 1996). Recent studies have found children born to these mothers to be at higher risk for committing crime in adolescence."

Then in 2001, you and Donohue quantified just how much the higher abortion rate among blacks should reduce the homicide rate:

"Fertility declines for black women are three times greater than for whites (12 percent compared to 4 percent). Given that homicide rates of black youths are roughly nine times higher than those of white youths, racial differences in the fertility effects of abortion are likely to translate into greater homicide reductions. Under the assumption that those black and white births eliminated by legalized abortion would have experienced the average criminal propensities of their respective races, then the predicted reduction in homicide is 8.9 percent. In other words, taking into account differential abortion rates by race raises the predicted impact of abortion legalization on homicide from 5.4 percent to 8.9 percent."

The way I do the arithmetic, you are saying here that 39% of the purported Levitt Effect of legalized abortion reducing homicides came solely from more abortions among blacks. Funny, though, I don't recall you ever mentioning that very interesting insight in Freakonomics. I wonder why not ...

So, Steve, you seem to have lots of time on your hands for blogging about trivialities, so when are you going to find the time to step forward and say that Bennett was right when he said it was who you had put forward a racial aspect as part of your overall theory?

You tried to weasel out of any association with Bennett's statement last week, but you got nailed by a lot of your commenters for making a misleading logical argument about crime rates. Then you offered a very bad grace admission while once again trying to distract all attention from the racial component of your abortion-cut-crime theory.

Or don't you have the courage to tell the truth about your most famous theory?

Links:
Levitt's 1998 paper: http://olin.stanford.edu/workingpapers/WP168DONOHUE.pdf
Levitt's 2001 paper:
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=174508

Read more...

Steve Sailer

Let's face it. Your abortion-cut-crime theory is now tainted in the media's mind by the Bill Bennett Brouhaha and they would just as soon not deal with it.

Perhaps you could have headed off this fate if last week you had issued a ringing endorsement of free thought, quoted Voltaire, and in general used your media glamour to defend Bennett from the smear jobs. Instead, though, you chose to weasel and waffle to protect yourself by claiming, disingenuously, that what he said wasn't implied by your theory. By letting Bennett be trashed, though, you've let your trademark theory be tainted by association with his disgrace.

As you sow, so shall you reap.

Anonymous

What about the death penalty? Its reinstatement in New York state was part of lowering crime rate, in my opinion.

Anonymous

The death penalty? In your opinion? Wow, with an endorsement like that, an anonymous opinion -- who cares about science, statistics, or actual data --, I am astounded the New York Times didn't mention it!

No Blood for Hubris

Let's have more and more unwanted children and more child abuse and neglect and see what happens.

kate q

I read a book once by William Bratton which gave a lot of the credit for the drop in crime to the (new, Bratton-improved) NYPD (under Giuliani, who couldn't deal with sharing any credit). Which NYPD would still exist, of course, under Bloomberg.
It seemed to me that he made a good case. Would be interesting to re-read it now, paying attention this time.
[And also to read one by Rudy, slamming Bill. Just to compare. :) ]

(Incidentally, that book makes me leery of any potential Giuliani Presidential nomination. Good man in a crisis, but if Bratton is right about his ego...yikes.)

Shelton

Hey Steve Sailer,

Why is it that in your archives, you removed the entries for 2003? Is that you don't want anyone to find out that you were cheerleading for the Iraqi war then but now claim that you've always been against it?

Anonymous

What are you talking about? I have enjoyed reading the 2003 archives recently. Go to the bottom of the right column...they are way down there. Sailer seemed very concerned about the war. While you check up on that, make sure to enjoy his ripping apart Andy Sullivan's "eagle" nonsense.

Shelton

Anonymous,

Are you blind? Go to Steve's archives here and tell me if there is any link to his posts in 2003:

www.isteve.blogspot.com

Here is another little evidence:

http://www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/001340.html

There is more in gnxp.com on Sailer's hypocrisy about the Iraqi war.

Anonymous

....crime "statistics" are easily manipulated -- especially by big-city politicians & bureaucrats.

The NYPD had two mob hit-men on its payroll. Ever hear of Serpico ? How 'bout Bernard Kerik ?

Check the raw data before drawing up/down 'statistical' conclusions ... and broad social commentary.

Morgan K.

Shelton,

Anonymous is not "blind" and Sailer never removed his archives. Perhaps you could at least be accurate if you are going to engage in personal attacks.

Steve's 2003 archives are at the bottom of his www.isteve.com page, not at the blogspot location.

The grand majority of his commentary for over a year leading up to Iraq was clearly anti-war and anti-warhawk/neo-con, with some occasional mixed in ambivalence because he did believe there was a rational casus belli for taking out Saddam, but he was always clear that the public, the pundits and the government were not interested in that goal and justification and that any attempt to rule or democratize the region would not be a success.

He set out his disapproval of Iraq war hawks all the way back in November and December of 2001, and his conditions for accepting the war:

"The focus of the hawks, however, has largely narrowed to Saddam Hussein's Iraq . . . Unfortunately, there has been little realistic discussion of the necessary preliminary steps for conquering Iraq . . . If the United States isn't willing to be ruthless enough to rule an empire, then perhaps it should restrict itself to rooting out bin Laden and the Taliban rather than planning an empire for which it doesn't have the stomach.”

http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=12112001-021659-8658r

In Mar-Apr 2002 we find this characteristic Iraq war cheer-leading:

"Good article by Joshua Micah Marshall in the Washington Monthly: "Bomb Saddam? How the obsession of a few neocon hawks became the central goal of U.S. foreign policy." "

and:

"Dear WarBloggers: I know you are all gung-ho to conquer Iraq and turn it into a middle class democracy ... but, don't you ever get a bit worried that we've already conquered Afghanistan, yet we don't seem to have a clue how to convert that country into a bourgeois republic? Maybe we ought to practice in Afghanistan until we get the hang of this nation-building thing before rushing into Iraq?"

And this is from September 02, a little bit after the "cheerleading" in the link you gave:

"My best guess is that the consequences of the Iraq Attaq will turn out to be unspectacular. I'd guess that we'll win, we'll fix up their oil industry, and then we'll start to get sick of the place, like the British did during the one decade they ruled Iraq. Something bad will happen like it did to our Marines in Lebanon in 1983, so we'll go home, and Iraq will go back to being Iraq. Hopefully, the Gulf won't be much less stable than it is now. Likely, while we're there we'll be so bogged down that several other countries will use the window of opportunity to develop WMD to prevent us from invading them, but we will have lost our taste for invasions anyway, so big deal."

In Dec 2002/Jan 2003 he wrote The Cousin Marriage Conundrum explaining why nation-building in Iraq would likely fail. The invasion began in March, three months after this obvious pro-war propaganda.

http://www.isteve.com/cousin_marriage_conundrum.htm

Nice try though. I understand It must be embarrassing for Levitt-defenders getting caught rewriting history on the use of race in Levitt's theory just to escape the wrath currently falling on William Bennett .

Read more...

Anonymous

I love the anonymous poster who blasted another poster for being anonymous.

(And yes I realize the irony of posting this anonymously.)

Andrew

Shelton,

How about not making an off-topic post and addressing the issue at hand? Steve Sailer has ripped Levitt's abortion-cut-crime theory to shreds again and again, and his accurate analysis is just ignored. Can Levitt, or any of his defenders, rebut Sailer's points without dodging the issue or making personal attacks?

Anonymous

Levitt made a simple point to Sailer six years ago: that his hypothesis is testable, and fails the test. For all his data-tossing and one-voice-that-will-never-be-silenced posturing, Sailer has never responded to that point. When Levitt brought it up again this spring, Sailer wrote this huge response that, once again, completely dodged Levitt's point. Can Sailer really be taken seriously?

Anonymous

As one who admires Professor Levitt's work, I wonder why he refuses to respond to the frequent posts by Steve Sailer with links to Professor Levitt's earlier work on crime and race. Professor Levitt, is there some new research that invalidates your earlier work? If so, please post a link for those of us who enjoy your work. Thanks

Anonymous

Dear Freakonomists,

Here's a fascinating social experiment for you. --Or maybe it should be considered more of a simple analysis of American troop fatalities in the Iraq war, in relation to the dispersion of actual data such as: age, race, branch of military and state origins.

I have a feeling that if you were to analyze troop fatalities and injuries, you'd find the largest percentages concentrated in poor, and "politically insignificant" states like Ohio, West Virginia, Wisconsin, etc., as opposed to electoral-rich states like Texas, Florida and California. You might also find that many of our troop fatalities come from poor and minority backgrounds, from which various conclusions could also be made...

I for one, would be very interested to see where Texas and Florida fall in the lists of statewide casualties, based on percentages of population, --or even the totals, for that matter!

We're approaching 2000 total U.S. Fatalities, with nearly 15,000 seriously wounded, in the month of October, 2005

Read more...

Anonymous

Dear Freakonomists,
Here's a fascinating social experiment for you. -Or maybe it should be considered more of a simple analysis of American troop fatalities in the Iraq war, in relation to the dispersion of actual data such as: age, race, branch of military and state origins.

I have a feeling that if you were to analyze troop fatalities and injuries, you'd find the largest percentages concentrated in poor, and "politically insignificant" states like Ohio, West Virginia, Wisconsin, etc., as opposed to electoral-rich states like Texas, Florida and California. You might also find that many of our troop fatalities come from poor and minority backgrounds, from which various conclusions could also be made...

I for one, would be very interested to see where Texas and Florida fall in the lists of statewide casualties, based on percentages of population, --or even totals, for that matter...

We're approaching 2000 U.S. Fatalities, with nearly 15,000 seriously wounded, in the month of October, 2005

Read more...