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September 18, 2014

BJS reports modest decline in violent and property crimes in 2013

As detailed in this official press release from the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the results of the BJS crime victimization survey shows that the "overall violent crime rate declined slightly from 26.1 to 23.2 victimizations per 1,000 U.S. residents from 2012 to 2013."   Here are more of the statistical details:

The 2013 decrease in violent crime was largely the result of a slight decline in simple assault, which is violence that does not involve a weapon or serious injury. The rate of violence committed by strangers also declined in 2013. However, there was no statistically significant change in the rate (7.3 per 1,000 in 2013) of serious violence, defined as rape or sexual assault, robbery or aggravated assault.

In addition, there were no significant changes from 2012 to 2013 in the rates of firearm violence (1.3 per 1,000), violence resulting in injury to the victim (6.1), domestic violence (4.2) or intimate partner violence (2.8)....

In 2013, 1.2 percent of all U.S. residents age 12 or older (3 million persons) experienced at least one violent victimization, down from 1.4 percent in 2012. About 0.4 percent (1.1 million persons) experienced at least one serious violent victimization.

The overall property crime rate, which includes burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft, also decreased after two consecutive years of increases. From 2012 to 2013, the rate declined from 155.8 to 131.4 victimizations per 1,000 U.S. households. The rate of theft declined from 120.9 to 100.5 victimizations per 1,000 households, driving the decline in the overall rate. In 2013, 9 percent of all households (11.5 million households) experienced one or more property victimizations....

Violent victimization in urban areas declined from 32.4 per 1,000 in 2012 to 25.9 per 1,000 in 2013. The violent crime rate declined for males but did not change significantly for females from 2012 to 2013. From 2012 to 2013, the violent crime rate declined for blacks while remaining flat for whites and Hispanics.

The NCVS is the largest data collection on criminal victimization independent of crimes reported by law enforcement agencies to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) — the nation’s other key measure of the extent and nature of crime in the United States. During 2013, about 90,630 households and 160,040 persons age 12 or older were interviewed for the NCVS. Since the NCVS interviews victims of crime, homicide is not included in these nonfatal victimization estimates.

The full report written by BJS statisticians and titled simply "Criminal Victimization, 2013" is available at this link.

September 18, 2014 at 03:42 PM | Permalink


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This is the gold standard of measurement of criminality, and is independent of crime reporting by police departments.

It is reliable measurement. It measures real crimes, not phony lawyer gotchas.

I have come to support the lead theory after actual levels were obtained in real people, rather than correlations at the social research levels.

However, the multifactorial view is the strongest of all. So add aging population, increased wealth, kids smoking dope instead of drinking, obesity epidemic, video addictions, legalization of abortion.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 18, 2014 7:41:19 PM

I'd say that the only reliable measure of crime is homicide rate, since it's pretty tough to hide a body or cover up a death. Everything else is subject to the vagaries of reporting rules, changing definitions, political agendas, bureaucratic manipulation, the the public's willingness to report crimes.

And, Mr. Claus, I'd be quite interested in any citation you can provide finding correlations between measured lead levels and criminality. I have never seen such data, and the lead theory is pretty weak without it.

Posted by: Boffin | Sep 19, 2014 9:14:59 PM

I agreed with you about the weakness until longitudinal data in individuals could be obtained.

I have criticized the theory as well. Bastardy, the advocate said, also correlated with lead levels, possibly via race (I said via race, not him).

I demanded an explanation of China and Egypt, high air pollution, low crime. He did not really address that saying crime reports were distorted by politics. However their low crime rates were confirmed by population surveys conducted by UN employees, using the DOJ survey methodology (the gold standard). As the Chinese are imitating us and trying to increase their lawyer to population ratio, their crime rate is shooting up. Perhaps there is a correlation between lead levels and the overlawyering of a nation.

I have settled on the lead level as a factor among others explaining the rise and fall of crime rates. There is one more, I failed to mention, fashion. It gets cool and uncool to do crime sometimes.

From my May 21 comment

This longitudinal study supports Rick's argument. Although by, again, an economist, it employs health survey longitudinal data.

Amherst College and NBER
It is well known that exposure to lead has numerous adverse effects on
behavior and development. Using data on two cohorts of children from
the NLSY, this paper investigates the effect of early childhood lead
exposure on behavior problems from childhood through early adulthood.
I find large negative consequences of early childhood lead exposure, in
the form of an unfolding series of adverse behavioral outcomes: behavior
problems as a child, pregnancy and aggression as a teen, and criminal
behavior as a young adult. At the levels of lead that were the norm in
United States until the late 1980s, estimated elasticities of these
behaviors with respect to lead range between 0.2 and 1.0.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 20, 2014 1:05:14 AM

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