Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bahamas: Increases in population lead to increased crime ...while increases in gross domestic product (GDP) lead to decreased crime

Study keys in on causes of crime

By Candia Dames
Guardian News Editor

A new scientific study by a College of The Bahamas researcher has concluded what may come as no surprise to policymakers: Increases in population lead to increased crime while increases in gross domestic product (GDP) lead to decreased crime.

“If you know what your population growth is going to be, the government would have to increase GDP by a certain amount to keep the crime rate at wherever their quota is,” said Dr. Yan Lyansky, an assistant professor in the School of Mathematics, Physics and Technology.

Lyansky has come up with a mathematical formula, which he said could accurately predict what the rate of crime would be at any given point in the future based on the population of The Bahamas and the size of its economy.

“Everybody is worried about crime, but according to the numbers it doesn’t look different historically from what’s been going on a very, very long time ago,” he said.

“What I mean is when you talk about population growth, you’re going to naturally get more crime and everything looks consistent.

“It looks like maybe in more recent history there is little more of a spike but there’s not enough data for that to analyze.”

The paper is one of the studies that will be presented at COB’s 2011 Violence Research Symposium on November 3.

The goal of the research conducted by Lyansky is to find the best predictors of violent crime in The Bahamas.

“We assume that the government will be able to change policy to lower the crime rate if it knows the determining factors that influence crime,” said the study’s abstract.

The paper notes that crime has been an escalating problem in the Caribbean.  In The Bahamas, the general public perceives that crime is out of control, it adds.

The paper also says, “The police commissioner is under pressure to find a solution to the problem.”

The study says that as the population increases, the government may need to invest an even greater proportion of its resources in dealing with crime as the number of crimes increase.

It adds, “Government policies should be designed to increase the prosperity of the nation, but what this data shows is that when the country can not position itself to compete or can not cope with external shocks, then crime would be expected to rise.”

In an interview with The Nassau Guardian, Lyansky said, “We can predict exactly where the crime rate’s going to be moving forward, given the fact that it has been very accurate in the past.”

He said that many people who speak about crime and the causes of crime — including some authorities — do not speak from a factual position.

“A lot of the things that are written about crime, that I’ve read, and the explanations that I’ve heard make me shake my head.  They’re not going to help advance a solution,” Lyansky said.

As an example, he said, “The police commissioner, he was close to my house one day giving a talk and his explanation was that it’s all based on drugs and you know, that’s a bunch of nonsense and the reason it’s nonsense is I would actually have liked to make a correlation between the two, however, there is no data on drugs, drug usage or anything here so to make a blanket statement like that, it’s just a statement.

“You’re not actually going to be making progress from [those kinds of statements].”

Lyansky said there are so many inconsistencies in explanations some people provide regarding the causes of crime that it’s impossible to make any scientific determinations about them.

Speaking of the importance of scientific research, he said, “It gives you a better predictor moving forward.

“…If you need GDP to increase and you know the population’s going up, you need to do this to GDP and hence that would be a basic way (to fight crime).”

Oct 24, 2011