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After the Epidemic: Recent Trends in Youth Violence in the United States

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  • Philip J. Cook
  • John H. Laub

Abstract

The epidemic of youth violence in the United States peaked in 1993 and has been followed by a rapid, sustained drop. In parallel with our earlier treatment (Cook and Laub 1998), we assess two types of explanation for this drop -- those that focus on 'cohort' effects (including the effects of abortion legalization) and those that focus on 'period' effects (including the effects of the changing crack-cocaine trade). Once again we are able to reject the cohort-type explanations, yet also find contradictions with an account based on the dynamics of crack markets. The 'way out' of this epidemic has not been the same as the 'way in.' The relative importance in homicide of youths, racial minorities, and guns, all of which increased greatly during the epidemic, has remained high during the drop. Arrest patterns tell a somewhat different story, in part because of changing police practice with respect to aggravated assault. Finally, we demonstrate that the rise and fall of youth violence has been narrowly confined with respect to race, sex, and age, but not geography. Given the volatility in the rates of juvenile violence, forecasting rates is a risky business indeed. Effectively narrowing the range of plausible explanations for the recent ups and downs may require a long time horizon, consideration of a broader array of problem behaviors, and comparisons with trends in other countries.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8571.

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Date of creation: Oct 2001
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Publication status: published as Tonry, Michael (ed.) Crime and Justice: A Review of Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8571

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  1. Jonathan Gruber, 2001. "Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number grub01-1, July.
  2. John J. Donohue & Steven D. Levitt, 2001. "The Impact Of Legalized Abortion On Crime," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 379-420, May.
  3. Jeff Grogger & Michael Willis, 2000. "The Emergence Of Crack Cocaine And The Rise In Urban Crime Rates," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(4), pages 519-529, November.
  4. repec:reg:wpaper:71 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Nevin, Rick, 1999. "How lead exposure relates to temporal changes in IQ, violent crime, and unwed pregnancy," MPRA Paper 35324, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Steven D. Levitt & Lance Lochner, 2001. "The Determinants of Juvenile Crime," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 327-374 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ted Joyce, 2001. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," NBER Working Papers 8319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. repec:reg:rpubli:71 is not listed on IDEAS
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Cited by:
  1. Phillip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, 2004. "The Social Costs of Gun Ownership," NBER Working Papers 10736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Sara B. Heller & Brian A. Jacob & Jens Ludwig, 2010. "Family Income, Neighborhood Poverty, and Crime," NBER Chapters, in: Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs, pages 419-459 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, 2006. "Aiming for evidence-based gun policy," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(3), pages 691-735.
  4. John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce," NBER Working Papers 9532, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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