Sunday, October 28, 2007

Ban on leaded petrol 'has cut crime rates around the world'

I wonder if this startling piece of research will have any impact on Giuliani's campaign.

Remember this is a Republican candidate who loves to remind us that: "I reduced homicides by 67 per cent; I reduced overall crime by 57 per cent."

Well, recent research appears to suggest that Giuliani, although thinking he is telling the truth, is actually greatly overstating his own achievement and that there is a greater link between banning lead in petrol and a reduction in the crime rate than any law and order action taken by any politician.

Published in the peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Research, the study reports a "very strong association" over more than 50 years between the exposure of young children to the toxic metal and crime rates 20 years later when they are young adults.

And it says the association holds true for a wide variety of countries with differing social conditions, law and order policies.

Rates of violent and other crimes began falling sharply in the US in the early 1990s, and have continued to do so, followed by similar tends elsewhere.

Yet evidence is growing that the banning of lead should take much more of the credit for reducing crime rates. The toxic metal has long been known to damage brains and to lead to criminal and aggressive behaviour.

Research at Pittsburgh University found that adolescents arrested for crime in the city had lead levels four times higher than their law-abiding contemporaries, and a study of 3,000 possible causes of criminality in 1,000 young people by Fordham University, New York, found that high lead levels were the best predictor of delinquent and violent behaviour.

Two studies by leading criminologists, Professor Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St Louis and Professor Steven F Messner of the University of Albany, have concluded that Giuliani's zero tolerance policy was actually only responsible for a tenth of the reduction in crime rates that Giuliani is claiming.

The metal was first added to petrol in the 1920s to boost engine power and its use grew rapidly: levels in blood rose in parallel. It was phased out first in the US, starting in 1974, to be followed by other countries.

Britain – one of the last to get rid of the toxic metal – is one of the latest to enjoy a decline in crime.

So it appears that, twenty years after phasing out lead in petrol, this kind of reduction in crime is commonplace across the world wherever this is done.

Giuliani, the man famous for being New York's Mayor on the worst day in it's history, now finds his crime fighting record - of which he is so proud - might have had very little to do with him after all.

Click title for full article.

4 comments:

Jason said...

Giuliani, the man famous for being New York's Mayor on the worst day in it's history, now finds his crime fighting record - of which he is so proud - might have had very little to do with him after all.

Now that's just fucking hilarious. Unleaded gasoline is responsible for a reduction of crime in NYC that also happened to coincide with the policies of the DA. Absolutely rich.

On another note, while happy that we exposed you to the greatest professional sport on the planet this weekend, I must apologize for sending you the Dolphins and the Giants. I'm sorry they suck. Ah well, the World Series of the second greatest sport on the planet is about to get wrapped up by the Boston Red Sox. Good times.

Kel said...


Now that's just fucking hilarious. Unleaded gasoline is responsible for a reduction of crime in NYC that also happen. ed to coincide with the policies of the DA. Absolutely rich.


That's what the research has found Jason. If you have research which counters that, I'd be happy if you could supply a link. However, you disregarding something just because you don't like it is hardly scientific proof.

And I honestly don't know what you are referring to when you talk of the Dolphins and Giants. Is it baseball? If so, it has had little impact here as I honestly have heard of nothing that's happening.

Although I must admit that most Europeans find it a particular American vanity that you have a "world series" of a game which no other country plays.

Anonymous said...

um, actually the best explanation I've heard is Roe v. Wade, as discussed in the book Freakonomics, which, like the lead theory, would take about 20 years to take effect, as most criminals tend to be in that young age bracket.

it's all moot anyway: cause crime went down, literally everwhere, and was starting to go down in the Dinkins administration before Rudy. Like 911 and everything else, Rudy just takes all the credit.

Kel said...

Anonymous, I don't understand Rudy and 9-11. Everything I've read about it does not put him in a very good light. And if he becomes President, is he saying that every day with Rudy in charge will be like 9-11?