Did Falling Testosterone Affect Falling Crime? There are already too many proposed causes for the secular decline in crime, but I can’t resist suggesting one more. A couple of months ago Nydwracu asked me whether falling slowly tab pdf could be related to the secular decline in testosterone. This secular decline in testosterone is pretty dramatic.

No one knows exactly why this is happening. THOSE TV COWBOYS WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG! Other people have tried to adjust for these and found they don’t explain the entire effect, leading to a host of other theories. This theory seems to still be in crackpot territory, but I don’t know why.

Research shows that male-assigned-at-birth children exposed to diethylstilbestrol in the womb are more likely to become transgender than the general population. Annnnnyway, testosterone has been found to correlate a bit with violent crime. In a study of 692 male criminals, Dabbs et al found that those in prison for more violent crimes had higher testosterone than those in prison for nonviolent offenses. I can’t fin any of those with a good sample size. You can read a review of the research here. They don’t give me a standard deviation, but from this site I get one a bit less than 200. So testosterone declines by one standard deviation about 25 years?

That means that a person in the top third of testosterone levels today would have been in the bottom third fifty years ago. The first problem with this is that we can’t really use data on prison inmates as representative of the population. The second problem is that murder has halved in way less than fifty years. It seems to have halved between 1994 and 2004.

The third problem is that crime didn’t start falling until the early 1990s, but testosterone was falling since at least 1987 and probably earlier. The fourth problem is that there’s contradictory evidence about whether testosterone is even falling at all, according to a a study that looked at the faces of Major League Baseball players of the past 120 years. So overall while I like the approach of this hypothesis, I don’t think it gets the time window right. It would be a nice way to explain a gradual fifty-year decrease in violent crime starting in the 50s and continuing to the present day. Instead, we have a big spike in the 50s and a big drop in the 90s, which were not particularly abnormal in terms of testosterone decline. This doesn’t really make sense to me. If testosterone is declining, it should cause a decrease in crime.

One might argue that testosterone levels have been steadily operating behind the scenes causing very long term declines while other things account for the more visible short-term trends, but that seems like a cop-out. Also, we have cemeteries full of millions of dead people from every era of history, all carefully marked with what age they were when they died. I assume you can still measure the digit ratio of bones, the overall length is still there. I know, just once I want to get through an entire blog post without a call for disinterring the dead, but this is important. This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged biology.

230 Responses to Did Falling Testosterone Affect Falling Crime? What about the availability of violent and sexual media? These seem to be an outlet for these urges. I’m sure someone has suggested this already.

I wonder how well this matches the timelines. 1994-2004 might be an interesting time for uptake in internet access. Someone with more patience than I could did into the US census data on the subject, and see if there are any trends over that period. I thought of internet usage rising correlating with crime falling in the last post but my super lazy ten minute exploration didn’t give me much of interest. As you may know, someone did look at changes in internet access by state vs changes in rape rates, on the theory that increased internet access meant better access to porn, so could be used to test whether porn was a complement or a substitute. More internet access correlated with less rape, and the correlation did not hold for other crimes, which at least suggests substitute.

IQ isn’t the end-all-be-all of mental function, and might not even be all that useful in this field. I’m firmly in the 2nd standard deviation, and I can certainly think of, consider and plan various crimes ranging from murder to bank robbery and computer crimes. That said, I have fairly mediocre executive function, and tend to oooohhh shiny. However this would suggest that these population groups would then have the intellectual skills to move out of poverty. I wonder if less crime leads to less crime because fewer people are around criminals, so the behavior seems less normal. This is my opinion as well. I wouldn’t doubt that environmental or physical causes interact with socialization.