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Striking Visualizations of the National Crime Decline

| January 25, 2013

Crime rates have been declining throughout the United States for years. Scholars agree that only a small portion of the decline can be attributed to the increase in incarceration, but they debate endlessly about what caused the rest of the drop. One possibility is improvements in policing. The removal of lead from many commonly used consumer products has also been suggested as a factor. Yet another possibility is sensible community corrections strategies targeted at reducing recidivism. Broad changes in American culture, although they are difficult to quantify, are also a possibility. (As James Q. Wilson wrote in 2011, “[t]he cultural argument may strike some as vague, but writers have relied on it in the past to explain both the Great Depression’s fall in crime and the explosion of crime during the sixties. In the first period, on this view, people took self-control seriously; in the second, self-expression—at society’s cost—became more prevalent. It is a plausible case.”)

Whatever the reason may be, crime continues to drop. Many predicted that current economic troubles — particularly the high unemployment rates of recent years — would lead to a national rise in crime, but crime rates have nevertheless continued to fall. These infographics provide striking visualizations of the decline.

Property Crime Rates

Violent Crime Rates

Aggravated Assault Rates

Burglary Rates

Automobile Theft Rates

Larceny Rates

Murder Rates

Forcible Rape Rates

Robbery Rates


VIBRANT P. REDDY is Senior Fellow for criminal justice issues at the Charles Koch Institute. Previously, Reddy was the Senior Policy Analyst for both Right on Crime and the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Effective Justice. He has authored several reports on criminal justice policy and is a frequent speaker and media commentator on the topic. Reddy has worked as a research assistant at The Cato Institute, as a law clerk to the Honorable Gina M. Benavides of the Thirteenth Court of Appeals of Texas, and as an attorney in private practice, focusing on trial and appellate litigation. Reddy graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Plan II Honors, Economics, and History, and he earned his law degree at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas and of the State Bar’s Appellate Section and Criminal Justice Section.