THE COMING WAVE OF VIOLENCE IN CALIFORNIA
Author : Allan Abrahamse
While California’s homicide arrest rate could nearly double in the next twentyfive
years, this is only one of several possibilities. The future depends on a key
uncertainty: whether today’s children will become more violent than today’s
adolescents. Any estimate of future homicide arrest rate depends heavily on
assumptions about how violent future birth cohorts will be.
A pessimistic assumption is that from 1977 on, children born each year will face
age-specific homicide arrest rates that are 3 percent higher than the preceding year’s
birth cohort. Such a 3 percent annual rise is not without precedent: it has occurred in
particular cohorts for a few years at a time. But such a rise has never been seen in
many cohorts for many years. This assumption can be regarded as a reasonable
upper bound (even though a higher rate cannot be completely ruled out).
An alternative possibility points to a more optimistic future for California. If
arrest rates decline by 1 percent in each successive birth cohort, the homicide
arrest rate will be about 14 percent lower in 2021 than today. An annual 1 percent
decline is not without precedent either, although it has never been sustained for
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