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Opinion: We Need More Crime Analysis, Less Crime Politics


George Borjas and Robert VerBruggen of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research urge people worried about crime to think about which policies work, not about what political party is to blame in an opinion article for the City Journal. They write that it’s easy to confirm empirically what both sides of the debate have said using raw data, but statistical modeling shows that crime differences across states and counties are significantly driven by factors not directly under the control of state or local policymakers.


People skilled in data analysis can make numbers seem to say whatever they want, Borjas and VerBruggen write, but that doesn't mean their conclusions are true. They contend that the discussion should center more around policy analysis than politics, because there is a distinction between the two. The authors used New York as an example. "If we must discuss politics, we are stuck quibbling over which party gets the credit for New York’s admirably low murder rate; but if we are discussing policy, we can ask what New York did right during that era and urge other cities to emulate it," they write. The authors' conclusion is that political parties should spend more time reading the literature around crime instead of "mudslinging" and manipulating data to give themselves credit.

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