How much should we trust crime statistics ? A comparison between UE and US
Paris : Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Evaluation of Public Policies
LIEPP Working Paper : 19
economy of crime, comparison
In this paper we take a cross-country perspective to study these issues. Our first objective is to investigate to which extent crime rates are declining in some major developed countries. Specifically, we look at the evolution of crime rates across the two sides of the Atlantic, namely United States and European countries between the 1970 and 2010. A crosscountry perspective is useful insofar we can learn if the apparent decline in crime rates is a global pattern. In doing this, we question the reliability of official crime statistics in assessing the trends in crime rates and some crucial factors impacting on criminal activity. A careful approach at the descriptive and inferential level has been suggested in the last years by several prominent scholars (Aebi, 2004; Dills et al., 2008; Goldberger and Rosenfeld, 2009; Durlauf et al., 2010): crime is a complex and by nature hidden social phenomenon and data need a careful inspection. While in other critical policy sectors data are collected systematically both at national and international level, descriptive information on crime trends across countries are not uniformly and systematically collected (...).