Links 10-2-22: Crime, Paperless Billing, Graphics Without Adobe

Posted on Oct 2, 2022

The Great American Mystery Story: Why Did Crime Decline?

Despite crime decreasing yearly since the 90s, Americans think that it consistently think crime is worse than the year before. It seems this perception can easily be explained by media reports of crime and the endless march of increasing police budgets.

In his newsletter External Processing, John Roman, a senior fellow in the Economics, Justice and Society Group at NORC at the University of Chicago, looks into the competing theories about the reduction of crime in America he links to papers on 25 different explanations for the declines and works through them.

At the top of the newsletter Roman notes the three most mainstreamed theories: abortion legalization, problem-oriented policing, and banning lead in gasoline.

Some notable hypotheses from the list: air conditioning, less cash in circulation, and in-home entertainment.

Roman makes a specific call out for air conditioning clarifying that the hypothesis centers around a change in routine activities:

If you are home, you are far less at risk of most types of victimization, and your property is safer as well. Air conditioning is a far more recent phenomenon than you might imagine. Here’s a table showing that by 1980, only about half the homes in the south had air conditioning.

This issue of the newsletter helpfully walks through crime trends since the 60s (when the FBI began collecting and publishing them) and noting the long decline since the 80s. When this was written, the 2020 rates weren’t out yet, but Roman noted that 2020 was a “dreadful year.”

He concludes by noting that the most compelling explanations do not come from the criminal justice system, but prevention. Prevention that focuses on creating strengths, removing barriers, and building assets, especially for those who start behind because the structures at play have forced them to start behind.

Are E-Bills Environmentally Friendly

While paying bills this morning and the website prompted me to opt out of paper billing. Having moved recently many services are sending paper bills, but knowing that internet infrastructure and access requires both rare earth minerals and electricity, I did a quick search to see if there was any scholarship on the matter. My brief inquiry led me to a 2014 Guardian article.

Electronic billing certainly saves companies money, but the time of this writing, the jury was still out on the ecological benefits. Interestingly, the paper industry recycles more than I anticipated.In 2019, paper recycling was at 66.2 percent.

A cursory search through Google Scholar only yielded the 2014 article I found. Should anyone reading this have journal access and find something relevant, I’d love it sent my way.

Interactive Graphics without an Adobe Login

Rive is a product for creating interactive graphics across a variety of run times. All the run times are open-source, but it doesn’t appear the tool itself is. The tooling itself has gitbook documentation with plenty of UI examples baked in.

The website and documentation look promising, but I can’t speak to the quality of the product. Marking for future use.

Linked Resources


Donohue III, John J., and Steven D. Levitt. “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime.” SSRN Electronic Journal, 1999.…

“Explaining the Spread of Residential Air Conditioning, 1955–1980.” Explorations in Economic History 45, no. 4 (September 1, 2008): 402–23.…

Moodie, Alison. “Is Digital Really Greener than Paper?” The Guardian, February 24, 2014, sec. Guardian Sustainable Business.…

Recycling Today. “Paper Recycling Rate at 66.2 Percent in 2019.” Accessed October 2, 2022.…

PhD, John Roman. “The Great American Mystery Story: Why Did Crime Decline?” Substack newsletter. External Processing (blog), February 20, 2021.…

Reyes, Jessica Wolpaw. “Lead Exposure and Behavior: Effects on Antisocial and Risky Behavior among Children and Adolescents.” Working Paper. Working Paper Series. National Bureau of Economic Research, August 2014.…

“Rive - The New Standard for Interactive Graphics.” Accessed October 2, 2022.

Wright, Richard, Erdal Tekin, Volkan Topalli, Chandler McClellan, Timothy Dickinson, and Richard Rosenfeld. “Less Cash, Less Crime: Evidence from the Electronic Benefit Transfer Program.” Working Paper. Working Paper Series. National Bureau of Economic Research, March 2014.…

Zimring, Franklin E. The City That Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and Its Control. Studies in Crime and Public Policy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

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