New research suggests that crime rates across the developed world have decreased dramatically over the last few decades, even in the face of widespread economic downturns and unemployment.
According to The Economist, comparative statistics for G7 nations indicate that many areas are now safer than they were in the 1950’s. Cities appear to have seen the biggest improvement. Violent crime decreased significantly across the United States, falling by about 32 percent across the country and up to a staggering 64 percent in the largest cities. Overall, crimes against person and property has gone down in the majority of developed countries over the course of the last decade.
In England, 86,000 cars were reported stolen in 2011, compared to the whopping 400,000 reported in 1997. Crimes against property decreased in France by 30 percent since 2011, and in Estonia, the number of robberies, car thefts, and murders all dropped by about 70 percent.
Experts are divided as to the reasons that may account for the worldwide decrease in crime. Some suggest that, because males ages 16-24 statistically commit the majority of crimes, the post WWII baby boom inflated that age bracket when they came of age; because the baby boom impact has now passed, crime rates have decreased in turn. However, others, including deputy assistant commissioner for the Metropolitan Police in London Mark Simmons, argue that the dramatic difference cannot be attributed to this alone, particularly because the number of males in the 18-24 age bracket is on the rise in large cities.
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Rising prison populations have also been attributed to the decrease in crime: less criminals on the streets, less crimes committed. But in countries such as Canada, the Netherlands, and Estonia, prison populations have decreased without increases in crime rates. Lifted restrictions on abortions, heightened police activity, social changes relating to increases in higher education, and the recession of drug epidemics in developed nations have as well been suggested as possible attributes to the downswing in crime. Some also point to the public’s higher tendency toward security as a factor in sinking crime rates, as criminals now have a higher chance of getting caught and may decide against committing crimes in the first place.