NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Timing The Coming Crime Wave

September 20, 1996

Enjoy the present drop in crime, experts warn, because crime rates are going to explode in the not too distant future. That's because the number of youths who are in their prime crime years is going to escalate.

Here is the temporary good news, from the latest National Crime Victimization Survey:

  • Violent crime was down 9.1 percent in 1995 from 1994.
  • Rape dropped 18 percent and robbery fell 13.5 percent.
  • Aggravated assault declined 18.9 percent, while purse-snatching and pick pocketing fell 17.5 percent.

But the demographics are against law-abiding Americans.

  • People are most likely to commit crime between the ages of 15 and 24, with 19-year-olds the worst offenders.
  • In 1995, there were 69 million Americans under age 18.
  • But by 2010 there will be 74 million juveniles.
  • Out-of-wedlock birth rates continue relentlessly upward -- from 31 percent of all births in 1993 to 32.6 percent in 1994.

Criminologists warn that those headed for their worst crime years are more violent and crime prone than any group this century. They are more racially and ethnically diverse, more likely to come from single-parent homes and more likely to be urban and poor.

  • If juvenile arrest rates hold steady from 1992 to 2010, violent crime would grow by 22 percent over the period.
  • But if they grow at the same rate they have over the last decade, violent crime would more than double.

Source: Editorial, "Crime: Good News, Bad News & Worse," Investor's Business Daily, September 20, 1996.


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