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Skip to 0 minutes and 16 secondsThis week, we will talk about the crime trend in the United States over the last few decades. As we will see, the trend has been really interesting. Crime rates go up and down all the time, but there was a historic rise in crime rates between 1960s and 1990s, followed by an equally impressive decline in crime rates. This rapid rise and fall of crime rates challenged many economists to look for explanation. We will take a close look at the explanation offered by Steven Levitt, an economist from the University of Chicago. An increase in the number of police, a rising prison population, a decline in the market for crack cocaine, and legalization of abortion.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 secondsWe will elaborate more on the first two factors, police and prison, and how they influence crime rates, in weeks 3 and 4. At the same time, economists believe that there are other factors that are closely related to crime. For example, crime rates are higher among young males, low-income individuals, and those who without legitimate jobs. And we will look at the research evidence on how crime is influenced by demographics, poverty, and labor market conditions. A lot of empirical research findings, especially from earlier years, are based on linear regression. This week we will talk about the basic motivation, behind linear regression, how to run it, and what can go wrong with it.

Skip to 1 minute and 47 secondsAlong the way, I will describe my own research project on the link between inequality and crime, and how we can use linear regression to examine the effect of inequality on crime using actual data on inequality crime from the United States.

Welcome to Week 2

This week, we will look at the crime trend in the United States over the last few decades.

Watch the video and think about this question:

What are some other factors that you think may be relevant to explaining and predicting national crime rates? What would you do to test your hypothesis using actual data?


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This video is from the free online course:

Economics of Crime

Hanyang University

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join: