This course will survey research on how voters and politicians react to crime. It will examine crime from the perspective of voters, such as how they react to crime, who they blame for crime, and whether they hold politicians accountable for rising crime. It will also examine how politicians respond to voters, analyzing whether politicians exploit voters’ fears, whether they manipulate crime statistics, and why they pursued policies that led to mass incarceration. In covering these topics, we will review research on why crime has generally fallen over the last few centuries, why it may have risen in the 1960s-1980s, and why it fell in the 1990s. While surveying this research, the course will also focus on training students to rigorously evaluate quantitative evidence for causal claims.
Students who took PS 191 "Junior Seminar: Crime and Democracy" with Professor Lenz cannot take this course due to the substantial similarity in course content.