Thursday, October 6, 2011

Crime Is Down, Is It The Obama Effect?

I've written a number of posts looking at the reasons that crime is declining here in the U.S. even with the poor economy. For most people, they would assume that when the economy tanked, crime would rise. However, for whatever reason this has not proved to be the case. The economy is still tanked, yet crime continues to decline.

Quite a number of criminologists have speculated as to the reasons why crime is down, the theories range from an aging population, increased incarceration, better law enforcement techniques, abortions, the waning crack cocaine epidemic and even a decrease in exposure to lead in paint and gasoline. Yet in spite of all these attempts to explain what on the surface appears to be an irrational contradiction none of them have been proven to be the definitive explanation.

An article over at Slate.com adds this reason to the mix:

“I think there’s little question the election had the effect of improving the general outlook of blacks and especially their economic outlook,” Rosenfeld told me. “Normally, blacks tend to be more pessimistic about economic prospects, even in good economic times.”

Ohio State University’s Randolph Roth, author of the magisterial 2009 volume American Homicide, is so convinced Obama’s election has fundamentally improved black people’s outlooks, in spite of what may be their actual circumstances, he published an essay last year explaining the crime drop with the title “It’s No Mystery.” “The inauguration of the first black president and the passing of the Bush administration re-legitimized the government in the eyes of many Americans during the first few months of 2009,” he writes. “African Americans and other racial minorities, who live disproportionately in America’s cities, were more deeply affected than anyone else, and it is likely that their greater trust in the political process and their positive feelings about the new president led to lower rates of urban violence.”

I'm not going to vouch for the accuracy of this theory that the election of President Obama had the effect of lowering crime during the economic downturn. I definitely am not going to delve into politics here on the blog. However, the article itself is a good read even if the jury is still out on the reason crime is still heading downward.

To be honest, it's probably going to be years before there is any consensus as to the reason that crime continued to decline during this recession. Until then, the speculation and the theories are liable to continue.

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