Crime Rates in a Pandemic: the Largest Criminological Experiment in History

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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has impacted the world in ways not seen in generations. Initial evidence suggests one of the effects is crime rates, which appear to have fallen drastically in many communities around the world. We argue that the principal reason for the change is the government ordered stay-at-home orders, which impacted the routine activities of entire populations. Because these orders impacted countries, states, and communities at different times and in different ways, a naturally occurring, quasi-randomized control experiment has unfolded, allowing the testing of criminological theories as never before. Using new and traditional data sources made available as a result of the pandemic criminologists are equipped to study crime in society as never before. We encourage researchers to study specific types of crime, in a temporal fashion (following the stay-at-home orders), and placed-based. The results will reveal not only why, where, when, and to what extent crime changed, but also how to influence future crime reduction.

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APA

Stickle, B., & Felson, M. (2020). Crime Rates in a Pandemic: the Largest Criminological Experiment in History. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 45(4), 525–536. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12103-020-09546-0

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