The Sky is Falling (and the Boogeyman is chasing me)
October 21, 2014
America is Safer
It is well known amongst law enforcement and criminologists that crime rates have been steadily decreasing (or in some cases remaining a flat-line) over the last twenty years. The United States is becoming a safer place.
Americans do not feel safe
Despite evidence to the contrary, Americans do not feel like the United States is becoming a safer place. We asked a random sample of Americans how they think the prevalence of several crimes today, compared to twenty years ago. For the majority of crimes, most respondents are pessimistic that the crimes had decreased.
Some key facts:
In all cases, Americans believe crime has at least remained steady. Only small minorities of Americans believe that any crime has become less frequent over the last few decades, with Americans being most optimistic about “mass riots” (about 23% of Americans believe mass riots have decreased).
People tend to have generally pessimistic views of crime as opposed to particularistic views. Put another way, beliefs about the incidence of individual crimes are very strongly correlated to one another. Someone who, for example, believes that school shootings have increased is extremely likely to believe that the seven other crimes have also increased.