Bad Economy = More Domestic Violence ... But Less Crime?

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Strange tidings from the world of law enforcement. A recent survey of 700 American police agencies found that most – 56 percent – believe that the still-grinding recession is spurring an increase in domestic violence. (You can read the whole report by the Police Executive Research Forum here.) Seems logical. "When stresses in the home increase because of unemployment and other hardships, domestic violence increases," Camden, NJ police chief Scott Thomson told USA Today in discussing the survey.

But what’s odd is that violent crime has been going consistently down, right through the worst years of the downturn. According to the FBI, the violent crime rate dropped every year since 2008 through the first half of 2011, the most recent year for which they have statistics.

You can’t make a direct comparison because the FBI doesn’t break out domestic violence as a specific crime, and police often don't charge those involved. Still, you would expect to see a significant uptick in spouse-beating reflected in the FBI’s aggravated assault category. You’re a smart bunch, Pacific Standard readers – who’s got an explanation?

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