The Decline and Fall of Violence
Our latest Freakonomics Radio segment on Marketplace concerns a topic we’ve been writing about for a long time: violent crime — and especially why it rises and falls. In this segment, Levitt and I discuss the fact that overall crime and violence are likely at a historic low these days, and not by a little bit either. The conversation builds off the fascinating new book by Steven Pinker called The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.
Pinker has just completed a very good Q&A on our blog, and you’ll hear him in the Marketplace segment as well. Even though many people are convinced that the world today is more violent than ever (can you say “media effect”?), Pinker lays out the facts of the decline and fall of violence in a way that is hard to dispute:
In tribal societies, hunter-gatherers and hunter-horticulturalists, an average of about 15 percent of people met their ends through violence. In the 20th century, if you try to come up with the highest estimate you can, combining all the wars, all the genocides, all the man-made famines, you get to about 3 percent.