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February 6, 2016

"Was there a Ferguson Effect on crime rates in large U.S. cities?"

The question in the title of this post is the title of this notable new research paper authored by a quartet of sociologists and criminologists and available now via ResearchGate. Here is the abstract:

Purpose There has been widespread speculation that the events surrounding the shooting death of an unarmed young black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri — and a string of similar incidents across the country — have led to increases in crime in the United States.  This study tested for the “Ferguson Effect” on crime rates in large U.S. cities.

Methods:  Aggregate and disaggregate monthly Part I criminal offense data were gathered 12 months before and after August 2014 from police department data requests and websites in 81 large U.S. cities.  The exogenous shock of Ferguson was examined using a discontinuous growth model to determine if there was a redirection in seasonality-adjusted crime trends in the months following the Ferguson shooting.

Results:  No evidence was found to support a systematic post-Ferguson change in overall, violent, and property crime trends; however, the disaggregated analyses revealed that robbery rates, declining before Ferguson, increased in the months after Ferguson.  Also, there was much greater variation in crime trends in the post-Ferguson era, and select cities did experience increases in homicide.  Overall, any Ferguson Effect is constrained largely to cities with historically high levels of violence, a large composition of black residents, and socioeconomic disadvantages.

Conclusions:  The national discourse surrounding the “Ferguson Effect” is long on anecdotes and short on data, leaving criminologists largely on the sidelines of a conversation concerning one of the most prominent contemporary issues in criminal justice.  Our findings are largely consistent with longstanding criminological knowledge that changes in crime trends are slow and rarely a product of random shocks.

February 6, 2016 at 05:12 PM | Permalink


I was around for the first "Ferguson Effect" which occured in 1967. We used to ride around North County and go to Jennings Steak N Shake, Riverview Steak N Shake, Florissant Steak N Shake, Ferguson Chuck A Burger and other places. Some girls from Ferguson with letter F on their letter sweaters rode some convertibles and showed off naked legs and flashed some shots as they rode through the drive throughs. Then the other girls in Florissant, Riverview and Jennings copy catted. The Ferguson Effect.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Feb 6, 2016 8:34:25 PM

Seattle Mardi Gras---the original Ferguson effect.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 7, 2016 1:08:38 PM


There is no statute of limitations. Go turn yourself in and get your passport stamped.

Ah, those were the days, but I deny everything.

Posted by: albeed | Feb 7, 2016 9:34:45 PM

The justice department is suing Ferguson. It is time that the store owners whose stores were looted and burned to the ground sue the federal government. The federal government, justice department "agents" ordered the Ferguson Police to stand down the night that the No True Bill was issued on Officer Wilson. The federal agents ordered the Saint Louis County Police to back off and stand down. The federal agents then ordered the National Guard to stand down and let the looters and arsonists do their crimes. Civil rights suit under 18 U.S.C. against the agents. Start with Eric Holder. Sue em now, I am racked and I am loud.

Posted by: JackMehoff | Feb 11, 2016 9:44:25 AM

Studies like this could help or not. But, I think the main takeaway in all of these factors and the fact that there is a "Ferguson Effect" term is to avoid having worse cases. Whether there is an effect or not, there should be an added precaution to prevent this from happening again.

Posted by: Angel Healy | Apr 7, 2016 6:12:47 AM

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