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The Great American Crime Decline$
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Franklin E. Zimring

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195181159

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195181159.001.0001

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New York City’s Natural Experiment

New York City’s Natural Experiment

(p.135) 6 New York City’s Natural Experiment
The Great American Crime Decline

Franklin E. Zimring

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines crime in New York City, but uses New York as a laboratory for new theories about the linkage between crime and social structure in urban American life. New York City received a double dose of crime decline in the 1990s, with serious crimes such as murder, robbery, and auto theft dropping by more than 70%. The chapter first explores the size and character of the city's crime decline, comparing what happened in New York City with the national pattern. Second, it estimates the incremental portion of the city's total crime decline that might be the subject of a separate evaluation. Third, it probes the particular history of the city during the 1990s, searching for atypical social or policy shifts that might qualify as the explanation of the city's incremental crime decline. Fourth, it addresses the lessons to be learned from the city's adventures in the 1990s. The city stands as an example of dramatic changes in the rate and risk of violent crime without major social, economic, or ecological changes.

Keywords:   New York, crime rates, crime decline, social structure, urban American life, social policy

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