I used to sit on the 21st floor. Now I am retired

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Freakonomics applied ironically

So, we were discussing the analysis done by Steven Levitt on how the fallout of Roe vs. Wade in 1970s reduced crime in 1990s in US.

The best thing I like about Levitt is that he uses data to prove or disprove things. He has hypothesis that he derives creatively or through anecdotes, but then let's data take over. Good boy!

So, we were telling the tale. We get to hear, "Yes, just like in India actually. In 1971, all these illegal immigrants came into India. Now, we face growing crime because of that!" Ironic, I found it.

We would like to look at some data and research behind crime in India to conclusively prove that illegal immigrants would not be a significant factor.

However, if the above assertion was true, then crime in a state like West Bengal should have been highest for it's proximity to Bangladesh (Don't jump on me for not considering various factors blah-blah). This would be instructive, then.


Blogger Falstaff said...

"However, if the above assertion was true, then crime in a state like West Bengal should have been highest for it's proximity to Bangladesh"

Not true at all, of course. The more instructive comparisons would be (btw, I can't get your link to open):

a) crime rates immediately before and after 1971.

b) % of convicted criminals from immigrant households as a % of total convicts vs. % of immigrant households as % of total.

Even this stuff would be far from conclusive, but it would be better than looking at West Bengal crime rate today. Ideally you'd want to run some kind of regression on crime rate, perhaps looking at increase (decrease) in crime rate in WB compared to increase (decrease) in other states.

On the whole, I wouldn't be surprised if you found a significant relationship between the immigration and crime. The point is that greater economic deprivation is related to crime, so to the extent that the immigrants joined the economically backward sections, you'd expect to see overall crime rates increase. I would be surprised if it was a particularly large increase though - I would expect it to be marginal.

Also, btw, it may be important to control for crimes against illegal immigrants. To the extent that these immigrants were met with hostility they may have been targets of crime, rather than perpetrators.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 9:45:00 AM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

I agree that we should run a regression on this, using some other state (without immigration) as control. That's what I said. But I am not sure whether this would be any significant (non-marginal) relationship..But we are both talking through our hats!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 7:21:00 PM

Blogger absolutefreedom said...

Where you read that he has correlated crime with immigration. His chapter in the book is totally based on his atricle "Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors That Explain the Decline and Six That Do Not." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2004, 18(1), pp. 163-90.
Where he hasn't even once mentioed about immigration.
according to him the biggest cause of the decline of crime is legalisation of abortion.

For India, this and other causes can't be a factor as the socio economic causes are different in India.
If we analyze the district level data, that I have done it will show that it is the districts in the periphery like North East and J&K showing more violent crime.
Let my article be published somewhere I will show that to you people.

Thursday, July 06, 2006 4:46:00 AM


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