The authors of Freakonomics have responded to my last post.
The gist of their argument is as follows:
One thing to consider, however: the theory put forth in Freakonomics examined why crime had fallen all over the country, not just in New York, and one of the many arguments against “broken windows” as a major cause was the fact that such innovative policing wasn’t being practiced elsewhere—and yet crime was falling in those places as well.
Fair enough. But that still doesn't solve the puzzle that is New York City—which is the problem I set out to try and solve in the Tipping Point.
In the period from 1994 to 2004, violent crime in the United States declined 32.8 percent. In New York City, it declined 54.3 percent. In the same period, property crime in the United States declined 23.2 percent. In New York City, it declined 46.4 percent. All of the same things happened in New York City as happened in the rest of the country to reduce crime—there were more cops on the streets, a better economy, high rates of imprisonment, a declining crack trade and yes, maybe even the beneficial effects of freely available abortions—but over and above those factors something else clearly happened in New York to cause crime to drop much further and much faster than in any other city in the United States. What is that something else? Freakonomics doesn't have an answer. I do: I say it's Broken Windows.
It's important to note, once again, that I'm not disagreeing with the core of the Freakonomics argument. I'm just pointing out that there nothing inconsistent between what that book says and what my book says. They are looking at national crime trends. I was interested in explaining the anomaly that is New York.