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How Rare Is Crime? Not Nearly As Rare As The Liberal Orthodoxy Suggests
The liberal orthodoxy on the costs of crime victimization tend to be a weird combination of Eloi / macho: crime is rare, so man up and don't worry about it.
Yet, Ross Douthat pointed yesterday to a 1987 Bureau of Justice Statistics study estimating that 83% of Americans are subject to at least one violent crime over their lifetimes. But, since some people are subject to more than one crime, the expected average per Americans was closer to two violent crimes per lifetime.
A commenter notes that it's reasonable for people to include their loved ones being subject to violent crimes as well.
So, let's use a stylized family tree to estimate the number of expected crimes committed against relatives by blood and marriage. Assume everybody in America gets married once and has two children. Thus, each person would have two parents, one sibling, one spouse, and two children. Counting yourself and your six first order relations, that would be an expected average of 14 violent crimes per lifetime committed against you and your closest relations.
A few caveats
Some of those violent crimes will be domestic. You, personally, might beat up your spouse, for example. On the other hand, society has put strong efforts into punishing and deterring domestic violence, with sizable gains, so domestic crime should hardly be wholly discounted.
Second, some of those crimes will happen before your birth or after your death, but that hardly means you feel all that great about that.
How many more relative do you have in this stylized schema:
- 4 grandparents -- 8 victimizations
- 4 grandchildren -- 8 victimization
- 2 nephews-nieces -- 4 victimizations
- 2 first cousins -- 4 victimizations
- 2 parents-in-law -- 4 victimizations
- 1 sibling-in-law -- 2 victimization
- 2 nephews/nieces-in-law -- 4 victimizations
- 1 spouse-in-law's spouse (e.g., your wife's sister's husband) -- 2 victimization
So, that's 36 more violent victimizations, along with the 14 of your inner circle, for a total of 50. And you can keep going onward from there. And then there are your friends.
No man is an island.