The crime drop in New York City has produced a whole academic literature that is unable to explain the decline. This article argues that this literature has ignored the simplest explanation of all: a simultaneous increase in the supply, and decrease in demand for illegal drugs led to a drop in the price of illegal drugs, which in turn led to a drop in crime. We use ethnography to document the drop in demand, secondary literature to document the increase in supply, and econometric analysis to illustrate Granger causality between drug prices and crime rates. While crime dropped across the nation and internationally, our article is focused on New York City.
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Or perhaps it is surprising, given that a main objective of the war on drugs that has been pursued with ever-increasing vigor during that period has been to decrease use by limiting supplies, and thus, it was hoped, driving prices up.
He does not explain how the NYPD could have been responsible for the declines in crime that took place in other US cities and internationally at the same time; drug prices of course declined internationally.
Greenberg’s comment about the price of drugs was based on the original conference presentation of this paper.
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What the paper actually argues is that cheaper drugs (rather than more drugs) led to lower crime, but we were unable to resist the allusion to Lott (1998); while we imagine the argument here may prove as unpopular as did Lott’s, we hope it will withstand critical scrutiny somewhat better.
An erratum to this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10624-016-9441-6.
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Wendel, T., Dhondt, G., Curtis, R. et al. “More drugs, less crime”: why crime dropped in New York City, 1985–2007. Dialect Anthropol 40, 319–339 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10624-016-9410-0
- Drug markets
- Drug Prices
- New York City
- United States