The Lead Made Me Do It

pump.jpg First it was the twinkie defense. Now it’s the lead one? The NYT reports in its article Criminal Element that a new environmental theory of criminal behavior described in the B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy suggests that the Clean Air Act (which got the lead out of gasoline) may have done more to fight crime than any other policy in U.S. history. “Reyes [an economist at Amherst College] found that the rise and fall of lead-exposure rates seemed to match the arc of violent crime, but with a 20-year lag — just long enough for children exposed to the highest levels of lead in 1973 to reach their most violence-prone years in the early ’90s, when crime rates hit their peak….Putting the two together,” she says, “it seemed that this big change in people’s exposure to lead might have led to some big changes in behavior.”

Tags: crime rates, economist, environmental theory, gasoline, violence

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