“Crime and Criminals.” In Peter Cane and Herbert Kritzer (eds.), The Oxford
Handbook of Empirical Legal Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010, 37-63.
This chapter takes as its organizing theme what we know - and do not know - about macro-
social trends in crime. Following a brief description of crime trends in comparative
perspective, the chapter reviews research on the factors associated with its rise and
decline. The discussion is organized in six categories: demography and economic
conditions; policing and incarceration; drugs, guns and gangs; community and
environmental factors; lifestyle and culture; and crime reporting and recording. The goal of
this review is to provide an entry point into the literature on crime trends, point out what is
known and what needs to be known about why crime goes up and down, and highlight some
of the issues facing those who take up the challenge. Although much of the research is
North American in orientation, the factors associated with crime and the technical issues
involved in addressing their impact are of broad cross-national significance.