NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Elderly Avoid Violent Crime By Staying Home At Night

January 18, 2000

In 1997, those 65 or older made up 12.7 percent of the U.S. population but accounted for only 7 percent of the crime victims identified in interviews for the National Crime Victimization Survey published by the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Elderly Americans had lower victimization rates than younger people for every type of violent and property crime measured by the interviews: rape, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, household burglary, auto theft and theft.

A study based on the survey, by statistician Patsy A. Klaus, says differences in lifestyle appeared to play a major role in the incidence of violent crime.

It may well be because older people stay home at night.

  • About 22 percent of elderly violence victims reported they never went out at night for entertainment, shopping or other activities.
  • By comparison, only 3 percent of violence victims under age 50 stayed home at night.
  • And violent attacks near home represented 43 percent of those against the elderly, but only 26 percent of those against younger people.

Each year from 1992 through 1997, there were an average of 5.3 violent crimes for every 1,000 U.S. residents aged 65 or older; whereas, those aged 12-64 suffered an annual average of 56 violent attacks for every 1,000 residents.

  • Among those 65 and older, 70 percent of the attacks occurred in daytime.
  • For those 50 to 64, daylight attacks comprised less than 60 percent of the total.
  • And for those aged 25-49, less than 50 percent.

Data for the National Crime Victimization Survey comes from Census Bureau interviews conducted every six months with 85,000 Americans 12 and older.

Source: Patsy A. Klaus, "Crimes Against Persons Age 65 or Older, 1992-97" (NCJ- 176352), January 9, 2000, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.


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