Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Crime Rates Fall

Violent crime fell significantly last year in cities across the U.S., according to preliminary federal statistics, challenging the widely held belief that recessions drive up crime rates. The incidence of violent crimes such as murder, rape and aggravated assault was down 5.5% from 2008, and 6.9% in big cities. It fell 2.4% in long-troubled Detroit and plunged 16.6% in Phoenix, despite a perception of rising crime that has fueled an immigration backlash. The early figures, from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, indicate a third straight year of decreases, along with a sharply accelerating rate of decline. WSJ, Evan Perez.

bu...bu...but that can't be right? We all KNOW that crime rates are rising sharply, because of all those dirty immigrants.

Right? Wait, "Evan PEREZ." He's one of them eel-eagle immy-grants, right? So the story is made up.

Whoops. Guess not. Even an Anglo like "Charlie Savage" is writing this story, for the Times.

Darn it. That whole "immigrants are dirty criminals" was such a good story, too. Until the inconvenient facts got in the way.


ardyanovich said...

But... doesn't immigration also decrease during a recession?

Ross said...

There is a good data driven look at the effect of immigration on US crime rates here:


Given the author is Ron Unz- the man behind the ending of so called bilingual education programs in California- he can't be accused of being blindly pc either.

Adam said...

The simple distinction between levels and rates of change seems important here. If I may quote from the kind of source that ordinary people check when shopping for homes:

For Phoenix, we found that the violent crime rate is one of the highest in the nation, across communities of all sizes (both large and small). Violent offenses tracked included forcible rape, murder and non-negligent manslaughter, armed robbery, and aggravated assault, including assault with a deadly weapon. According to NeighborhoodScout's analysis of FBI reported crime data, your chance of becoming a victim of one of these crimes in Phoenix is one in 140.

So there's the "fed up with this situation" factor that can also contribute to political action, not just the most recent year-to-year changes in crime rates.

Just sayin'.

El Loco said...

Umm, maybe the fall in crime had something to do with stepped-up border enforcement in AZ a couple of years ago. Without much effort I found this news report from Nov. 2008:

"In Arizona, increased enforcement and Operation Streamline — which slaps illegal crossers with criminal charges and possible jail time — have proven to be a sharp deterrent in the Border Patrol's Tucson and Yuma Sectors."


It's also easy to find stats showing that, until very recently, estimated illegal immigration into AZ had fallen markedly since 2005:

"Overall, illegal immigration through those two states, New Mexico and Arizona has declined from nearly 1.2 million in 2005 to 541,000 last year, according to the Border Patrol. In Arizona, illegal crossings fell from 578,000 in 2005 to nearly 250,000 last year — before the recent rise."


So maybe it's been Arizonans' recent observation of the correlation between crime reductions and border enforcement that has made them so upset about the recent cutback in enforcement. Or, I suppose you could be right, and this is all just a spontaneous outburst of bigotry.

kebko said...

My impression, as a local, is that Mexicans have been leaving Arizona for a couple of years now. The push to get them out was going on before the rest of the country got all hot & bothered about it. I wonder, even accounting for lower crime rates among immigrants, how this would affect the statistics. There may be a significant reduction in actual population that isn't well accounted for in the official population statistics, but the crime statistics would account for the reduction. So total crime would be down & official per capita crime would be down, but really this would just be the result of half a million people leaving who were never counted before unless they committed a crime.

Anonymous said...

kebko is right about the push to crack down on illegal immigrants -- see this link:
Most of it was taking place by proposition until Brewer got into office.

Also, I'm surprised at this blog post's confounding of "identifying basic correlations" with "drawing causal inference." How does an annual change in overall crime rates tell you anything about the marginal effect of an additional illegal immigrant on the crime rate? I'm not suggesting that it's positive/negative/zero, but can we agree that that's the actual issue?

People concerned about illegal immigration's causal impact on crime are not necessarily jerks who think of immigrants as "dirty criminals." Calling 70% of Arizona's voters racists/xenophobes with no actual evidence is kind of tacky, even for a blog.