Friday, January 4, 2013

What Explains the Rise and Fall of Violent Crime?

In the years since 1960 in the U.S., the rate of violent crime rose dramatically from about 3 per year per million people, to over 15 in 1988, and then back down to 8 last year (and still falling fast).  Why such large swings?

Kevin Drum (a journalist) reports on a theory proposing a very simple cause: environmental lead (Pb), primarily from leaded gasoline.  Before my more rabidly conservative readers explode in apoplexy: yes, I know this is in Mother Jones.  Yes, I know who Kevin Drum is.  Those two facts don't mean the man's wrong - read it; don't just reflexively dismiss it because of its source.

It's an interesting idea with some compellingly suggestive evidence (though less than proof positive at the moment).  This also suggests that renewed efforts to reduce environmental lead would be very beneficial...

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