A Note on the Use of County-Level Ucr Data: A Response

17 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2002

See all articles by John R. Lott

John R. Lott

Crime Prevention Research Center

John E Whitley

Crime Prevention Research Center; Institute for Defense Analyses

Date Written: July 1, 2002


Maltz and Targonski (2002) have provided an important service by disaggregating the county level data to help researchers examine measurement errors in the county level data, but their conclusion 'that county-level crime data, as they are currently constituted, should not be used, especially in policy studies' is not justified. All data has measurement error, presumably even their measures of this error. Unfortunately, however, Maltz and Targonski provide no systematic test for how bad the data is. Their graphs obscure both the small number of counties affected, that these are rural counties, and that just because some of the population in a county is not represented in calculating the crime rate, that is not the same thing as showing that the reported number is in error. Nor do they provide evidence for the more important issue of whether there is a systematic bias in the data. The evidence provided here indicates right-to-carry laws continue to produce substantial reductions in violent crime rates when states with the greatest measurement error are excluded. In fact, the restricting the sample results in somewhat larger reductions in murders and robberies, but smaller reductions in aggravated assaults.

Keywords: Measurement error, county level UCR crime data, systematic biases

Suggested Citation

Lott, John R. and Whitley, John E, A Note on the Use of County-Level Ucr Data: A Response (July 1, 2002). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=320102 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.320102

John R. Lott (Contact Author)

Crime Prevention Research Center ( email )

PO Box 2293
1100 W Kent Ave
Missoula, MT 59801
United States

John E Whitley

Crime Prevention Research Center ( email )

PO Box 3234
Alexandria, VA
United States

Institute for Defense Analyses ( email )

4850 Mark Center Dr
Alexandria, VA 22311
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ida.org

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