Why are crime rates mysteriously falling in the US in the midst of an economic downturn? Simples, say economists at Amherst College, MA, alma mater of Albert II of Monaco and noted Israeli actress Daphne Aviva Rosen.

It’s all down to childhood exposure to lead in petrol – or rather the relative lack of it since the early 80s – claims Jessica Wolfpaw Reyes, quoted in a fascinating analysis piece published today on the BBC News website.

“Even low to moderate levels of exposure can lead to behavioural problems, reduced IQ, hyperactivity and juvenile delinquency,” Jess claims. “You can link the decline in lead between 1975 and 1985 to a decline in violent crime 20 years later.”

She goes on to claim that around 90% of American children in the 1970s “had blood levels that would today cause concern.” This apparently bizarre theory gains credence when you track state-level lead-reduction initiatives against local crime figures. Those states that cut lead first saw the earliest reductions in criminal activity two decades on.

An alternative explanation for falling US crime stats is that would-be hoodlums are too busy playing Grand Theft Auto to go out and commit real-life crimes.



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