Demographic Change and the Murder Rate: The Case of the United States, 1934 to 2006
Fluctuations in aggregate crime rates contrary to recent shifts in the age distribution of the U.S. population have cast doubt on the predictive power of the age-crime hypothesis. Examining a longer time horizon with rigorous econometric techniques, we show that the percentage of the young population is a robust predictor of the murder rate. Increases in the immigration rate and prevalence of crack cocaine also contribute to changes in the murder rate. However, these variables capture a miniscule portion of its trend, while changes in the young population explain a substantial portion of the trend since the 1930s.
murder rate; demographic change; age composition; crime
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