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

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  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Nunley, John M. & Seals, Richard Alan & Zietz, Joachim, 2011. "Demographic change, macroeconomic conditions, and the murder rate: The case of the United States, 1934–2006," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 942-948.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:40:y:2011:i:6:p:942-948
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2011.08.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1348-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. José Caraballo-Cueto, 2015. "Socioeconomic Determinants of the Changes in Homicides over Time: A VAR Analysis," International Journal of Business and Economic Sciences Applied Research (IJBESAR), Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Institute of Technology (EMATTECH), Kavala, Greece, vol. 8(2), pages 119-132, October.
    3. repec:oup:geronb:v:72:y:2017:i:5:p:888-900. is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Vujić, Sunčica & Commandeur, Jacques J.F. & Koopman, Siem Jan, 2016. "Intervention time series analysis of crime rates: The case of sentence reform in Virginia," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 311-323.

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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