Despite Sensational Newspaper Reports Crime Rates are Actually Falling

By Steven D. Levitt  Dedc. 29, 2007

 

I have blogged repeatedly about the propensity of the media to distort official crime reports to make it appear as if things are getting inexorably worse. (You can see past examples here, here, and here.) Crime has more or less been treading water in the United States over the last few years, although you would never know it from the media.

About six months ago, I took a quick look at the data and saw that 2007 homicide rates were going to be way down in large U.S. cities. The major newspapers are finally starting to report these encouraging numbers, as Alexander Belenky’s interesting blog at the U.K. Guardian points out.

 

Last month, Al Baker at the Times noted that homicide is down, and that only 35 of the city’s homicides were committed by strangers. Meanwhile, Chicago’s murder rate is down 7 percent.

 

But here is my favorite:

Two weeks ago, I blogged about an article bemoaning the L.A. gang problem. I noted in my blog post that it didn’t sound right to me that gang problems were worse than ever in L.A. This conclusion was merely informed speculation on my part.

 

Last week, that speculation was confirmed when the Los Angeles Daily News reported that L.A. is on track to have its lowest homicide rate since 1970, with the greatest declines occurring in gang-related murders

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