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Demographic change, macroeconomic conditions, and the murder rate: The case of the United States, 1934–2006

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Author Info

  • Nunley, John M.
  • Seals, Richard Alan
  • Zietz, Joachim

Abstract

Fluctuations in aggregate crime rates contrary to recent shifts in the age distribution of the U.S. population have cast doubt on the predictive power of the age–crime hypothesis. By examining a longer time horizon, back to the early 1930s, we show that the percentage of the young population is a robust predictor of the observed large swings in the U.S. murder rate over time. However, changes in the misery index—the sum of the inflation and unemployment rates—significantly contribute to explaining changes in the murder rate. This applies, in particular, to those changes that are at odds with the long-run trend of the U.S. age distribution, such as the decline in the murder rate in the latter part of the 1970s or its increase starting around the middle of the 1980s.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics).

Volume (Year): 40 (2011)
Issue (Month): 6 ()
Pages: 942-948

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Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:40:y:2011:i:6:p:942-948

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/620175

Related research

Keywords: Murder rate; Demographic change; Age composition; Crime; Misery index;

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References

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  15. Tang, Chor Foon & Lean, Hooi Hooi, 2009. "New evidence from the misery index in the crime function," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 112-115, February.
  16. Jeff Grogger, 1997. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," NBER Working Papers 5983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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