▪ Abstract 

Violent crime in the United States has traveled a striking path in the past 20 years, from a sharp spike in the late 1980s to a dramatic drop beginning around 1993 that lasted until a flattening occurred at the beginning of the new century. The upturn of the 1980s was driven almost exclusively by a sharp increase in gun violence among young people, whereas the downturn was a joint product of a turndown in youth violence and a steady drop in violence among adults over 30 that has been ongoing for at least 25 years. These trends have intrigued lay observers and students of crime alike, with advocates of various explanations of crime arguing that the key for the rise, fall, or both lies with one or another favored determinant: prisons, drugs, guns, policing, economics, or demography, including abortion. In this review, we discuss both the crime trends and their candidate explanations, concluding that the most reasonable accounts involve a complex interaction among several of these factors.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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