Comparing Presidents, Demographic Trends (Males 18 – 24 as a Percent of the Population), Three Strikes Laws, and the Homicide Rate

This post looks at the male population 18 – 24 and the homicide rate. Not long ago, I had a post on the homicide rate, and I noted that the murder rate declined fastest under Clinton among all Presidents. Naturally, that means something else is at play (just as it was with other series, such as the abortion rate, real GDP per capita, paying off the debt, etc.), because we all know Clinton can’t possibly be given credit for something that went well during his administrations. Two culprits emerged… either it was the states with their 3 strikes laws, or demographics just happened to favor Clinton. (Note… the post also showed a positive correlation between the stock price of Sturm, Ruger as a share of the S&P 500 and the subsequent’s year murder rate. Sturm, Ruger was chosen because unlike other publicly traded gun manufacturers, guns are its primary line of business, and it sells mostly to civilians in the domestic market.)

I’ll have a comment about 3 strikes laws at the end of this post. But I now have some cleaned up Census demographics data. Data from 1980 to 2005 comes from here, and reader I. Kitov pointed me to data going back further here.

OK. So here’s what the male 18 – 24 population, them folks most likely to commit murder and mayhem, looks like…

Here’s a summary…

Well… it doesn’t appear that the big drop in the homicide rate under Clinton is due to demographics. Ike, Reagan, and GHW all had much more favorable demographics, but of those, only Reagan showed a decline in the murder rate, and much, much lower than under Clinton.

Here’s the murder rate per 100,000 and the males 18 – 24 per 100 people.

I’m not sure what conclusion I can reach from this, but concluding that the decline in the murder rate under Clinton was due to demographics seems a stretch.

Which leads to one final excuse… does anyone know where I can find a list of all the states that enacted three strikes laws and in what year. Here’s my reasoning… presumably, if those laws are the reason for this, as reader Sebastian Holsclaw insists, the murder rate in each state will decline beginning with the passage of the law. Meanwhile, states without those laws shouldn’t show much or any decline in the murder rate.

Offhand, I only about three states… Washington passed the first 3 strikes law in 1993, CA in 1994, and NY didn’t pass one at all. Here’s the problem… Bureau of Justice Statistics State Homicide figures show that for CA, the number of homicides in the state did in fact peak in 1993, which would be consistent with the notion of 3 strikes having an impact. Sadly, it bottomed out in 1999, without any repeal of the law.

NY… the peak occurred in 1990, and one heck of a decline (number of murders dropped from 2605 in 1990 to 889 in 2004 – far more impressive than the decline in CA) after that… without any 3 strikes law. In Washington, murders peaked in 1994… after the 3 strikes law was already in place. So… the 3 strikes story is plausible for CA, a stretch but possible for WA, and not useful for explaining the really big drop in murders.


I’ll see if there’s any more information I can extract from demographic info soon.