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Demographic Change, Macroeconomic Conditions, and the Murder Rate: The Case of the United States, 1934 to 2006

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

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

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Auburn University in its series Auburn Economics Working Paper Series with number auwp2010-04.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:abn:wpaper:auwp2010-04

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Keywords: Murder Rate; Demographic Change; Age Composition; Crime; Misery Index;

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Cited by:
  1. Mejía, Leonardo Bonilla, 2010. "Demografía, juventud y homicidios en Colombia, 1979-2006," REVISTA LECTURAS DE ECONOMÍA, UNIVERSIDAD DE ANTIOQUIA - CIE.
  2. John M. Nunley & Richard Alan Seals Jr. & Joachim Zietz, 2011. "The Impact of Macroeconomic Conditions on Property Crime," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series auwp2011-06, Department of Economics, Auburn University.

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