Filed under: Crime
Eric Rauchway (Corpses as artifacts of a cowboy culture. « The Edge of the American West) posts a Douglas Eckberg chart showing the US murder rate was a lot higher than we usually think, or than the Census figures showed, up to 1930 or so. (Via Matthew Yglesias.)
Yglesias notes that high murder rates tend to be self-reinforcing. My question is: what the hell happened in the mid-30s? It was the middle of the Depression. People were starving and living in shacks. Photos make much of the country look like Darfur today. You’d think that would lead to resource conflicts. Yet the murder rate fell steadily. Why? Because the New Deal was magic? Because the economy, though still at a miserably low level, had bottomed out and was growing rapidly? What?
Also, you’d think that sending all the country’s young males to other continents from 1942-45 to legally kill foreigners would drive the murder rate down, but instead it seems to have briefly shot up. Weird.
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