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Crime vs Crime Rate

A host of commenters on my Bill Bennett post get very agitated over the question of “crimes” vs. “the crime rate.”

The term “crime rate” implies a denominator, typically “per 100,000 residents.” So the number of crimes can fall, but the crime rate can rise if the population shrinks.

Bill Bennett said, “But I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.”

Seems to me Bennett was using the two terms more or less interchangeably, as people often do because the fluctuation in crime is typically so much greater than the changes in population.

I wrote, “Of course, it would also be true that if we aborted every white, Asian, male, Republican, and Democratic baby in that world, crime would also fall.”

Note, I didn’t say crime rate, I said crime.

Anyway, I would say that anyone who reads my blog post on Bennett and thinks the most important question is “crime” vs. “crime rate” is missing the point.