The figures underneath each slider and next to the violent and property crime bars are 2018 values for these factors and for the national rates of violent and property crimes per 100,000 Americans. (This is the most recent year for which all statistics are available as of 2020.) These provide a baseline for exploring the predicted effect on future crime rates of an increase or decrease in any of those factors.
In the statistical analysis on which this tool is based, five factors were found to be the strongest predictors of violent crime in a given year: the previous year's rates of inflation, teen birth, and imprisonment (combined state and federal), as well as the current year's percentage of adults who are divorced and percentage of the population between ages 18 and 24. For property crime, the five best predictors also included the lagged inflation and imprisonment rates and size of the 18-24 segment, as well as the current year's proportion of the labor force in manufacturing and fraction of the population with a bachelor’s or higher degree.
The weight of each factor—the size of its effect on crime—varied considerably, as will be evident from altering them. The factors also differ in that some, such as the imprisonment rate, are susceptible to direct change through policy whereas others, such as the size of the 18-24 segment, are not. Finally, it should be noted that most criminal-justice policy is enacted at the state and lower levels, not at the national level. This tool should therefore be seen as a model for state-level versions, which are in development.
(This page is best viewed at full screen, to maximize the number of sliders that are accessible without scrolling.)
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