Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Get the Lead Out

The Future

The Washington Post's Science section had a great article about lead exposure and the statistically significant correlation it has with increased criminal activity. A Fairfax, VA economist now claims that lead abatement and removal starting in the 1960s was the main reason why crime in New York plummeted in the 1990s - not Rudy Giuliani's "Broken Windows" theory of policing crime: arrest street-side window washers, panhandlers, and petty crooks.

It's an elegant argument, and one that it more empirically rigorous than the notion that the legalization of abortion led to decreased crime (why didn't this happen in Britain and other European countries?). It also shows that many urban areas with the most crime suffered twice as much as other areas: lead abatement rarely was conducted (or done so last) in poorer, urban areas, and later the Giuliani "broken window" campaign targeted these residents specifically.


walter said...

what about the Freaknomics argument linking crime to abortion and roe v wade?

ALT - [f r a m e s] said...

Like I said, this argument is more empirically rigorous than the abortion/crime rate "link." Read the article: it states that the abortion/crime reason fails when you look to other countries with legalized abortion, yet have high or increasing rates of crime.