Although the global economy has been suffering since 2008 and millions of Americans remain unemployed, communities across the U.S. are witnessing a downward trend in crime rates- leaving some experts baffled.
Statistics recently released by the FBI indicate that both violent crimes and property crimes decreased substantially from the first six months of 2011, compared to the first six months of 2010.
Violent crimes such as murder, non-negligent homicide, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault all faced a decline of 6.4 percent in the first half of 2011. Furthermore, property crimes including burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft also decreased 3.7 percent during the same period.
However, as the U.S. economy continues to remain mired in uncertainty, the fact that crimes, particularly property crimes, have gone down is a surprise to most experts, as past research has indicated a correlation between rising poverty and increasing crime rates.
Nevertheless, what is causing the decline remains unknown.
“What’s pushing it down is the mystery meat in the recipe of recent years,” criminologist and University of California Berkeley Professor Franklin Zimring told MSNBC.com.
Another expert echoed similar sentiments.
“I am surprised by the overall decline in both violent and property crime during and since the recent recession,” Richard Rosenfeld, a criminology and criminal justice expert, told MSNBC.com.
“I’ve studied crime trends in relation to economic conditions for some time, and the 2008-09 recession is the first time since WWII that crime rates have not risen during a substantial downturn in the economy,” he added.
Although the FBI report offered no detailed explanation as to why crime rates have dropped, other research has pointed to the fact that crime rates have dropped during an economic downturn before.
“While violent crime and property crime rates did increase during some recessions (generally in the 1970s), during others they either remained relatively stable or actually decreased,” according to a 2009 Congressional Research Service report on economic downturns and crime by Kristin M. Kinklea.
Thus, without a clearly defined explanation that points to the correlation between unemployment and crime, how the current economic climate will continue to effect American cities and communities in the coming year remains to be seen.