But Murder Rates Are Falling Everywhere

In response to the protests, over the last couple of years, about unjustified police killings, some "law-and-order" commentators -- almost all of whom seem to be named "Heather MacDonald" -- have warned us of the coming "Ferguson effect."

The basic idea here seems to be that if we want our cops to do their job, they have to feel free to shoot whoever they want, whenever they want. Otherwise, they will sulk.

However, there is a huge problem with this whole idea: it turns out that, even in nations where the police almost never shoot anyone, there have been huge drops in the murder rate. In fact, as the article notes, almost all possible causal factors appear inadequate to explain this drop.

My own suspect, by the way, is that the wave of post-WWII social engineering de-stabilized many communities, but that as the incidence of bulldozing established "slums" and shoving their former residents into huge housing complexes dropped, people managed to re-establish social order: given time, humans can adapt to any circumstances, even government housing projects! And the vast amount of gentrification that has occurred right at the borders of what were formerly notorious New York housing projects offers some limited backing for my guess.


  1. Not exactly an effect that is "coming" but one that is already here. MacDonald coined it after hearing it from a police officer I believe during the height of the Black Lives Matter crisis. The point is that it has been reversing the downward spiral of crime in American you correctly noted.

    Nate Silver's blog FiveThirtyEight has already confirmed a rise in homicides last year. The big objections(to law and order types) so far has been to count a lot of big cities and say it hasn't been uniform so it might be down to something else. As with so much of the crime debate, critics stay within their liberal and politically correct boundaries so their objections tend to not hold a lot of sway to people like Heather MacDonald who tends to be much more sober and data driven.The obvious test to the Ferguson effect is to focus on big cities with a high black population and where Black Lives Matters have been agitating.

    The evidence so far suggests that the Ferguson correct is a real phenomenon for the reasons law and order types claimed:
    I don't think the arguments and some of the statistical evidence warrants the Ferguson effect being brushed off so lightly.


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