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Understanding Crime Statistics
Revisiting the Divergence of the NCVS and the UCR


Part of Cambridge Studies in Criminology

James P. Lynch, Lynn A. Addington, Michael Rand, Callie Rennison, Cynthia Barnett-Ryan, David McDowall, Colin Loftin, Shannan M. Catalano, Mike Planty, Jaqueline Cohen, Richard Rosenfeld, Michael D. Maltz
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  • Date Published: March 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521680417

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About the Authors
  • In Understanding Crime Statistics, Lynch and Addington draw on the work of leading experts on U.S. crime statistics to provide much-needed research on appropriate use of this data. Specifically, the contributors explore the issues surrounding divergence in the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which have been the two major indicators of the level and of the change in level of crime in the United States for the past 30 years. This book examines recent changes in the UCR and the NCVS and assesses the effect these have had on divergence. By focusing on divergence, the authors encourage readers to think about how these data systems filter the reality of crime. Understanding Crime Statistics builds on this discussion of divergence to explain how the two data systems can be used as they were intended - in complementary rather than competitive ways.

    • Analyzes the latest versions of UCR and NCVS - including descriptive chapters of both data series
    • Addresses how the two data series can best be used in a complementary rather than a competitive way
    • The contributors are leading experts on US crime statistics
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Readers of this volume will understand what survey and police-based data can and cannot tell us about the crime problem and how important it is to thoroughly consider data quality when assessing changes in crime. This book should be required reading for those who analyze crime trends and the factors that might influence changes over time.' Janet Lauritsen, University of Missouri, St Louis

    'Lynch and Addington have recruited the field's top scholars on crime statistics to examine the divergence of the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and Uniform Crime Reports (UCR). The end product of this collection of essays represents the single best summary statement on the topic and should be required reading for all criminologists.' Alex Piquero, University of Florida

    'Crime trends are big news - the decline in crime which began in the early 1990s was one of the most significant social facts of the late 20th century. This book explains why and how researchers have worked to address our understanding of crime trends. The book concludes with sensible suggestions for improving the measurement of crime, a necessary step in advancing what we know about why it goes up and down in the first place.' Wesley Skogan, Northwestern University

    'The time is ripe to revisit this topic, assess the convergence between the NCVS and UCR in the last 15 years, and apply critical thinking in examining sources of divergence. The individual chapters in this book are useful both as separate statements and as part of the overall discussion about crime statistics and their meaning. These original analyses will contribute to continuing discussions and debates about the validity and reliability of crime statistics.' Christy Visher, The Urban Institute

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521680417
    • length: 356 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.481kg
    • contains: 28 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction James P. Lynch and Lynn A. Addington
    Part I. Overview of the Two National Measures of U.S. Crime:
    2. Introduction to the National Crime Victimization Survey Michael Rand and Callie Rennison
    3. Introduction to the Uniform Crime Reporting Program Cynthia Barnett-Ryan
    Part II. Defining Divergence and Convergence:
    4. What is convergence, and what do we know about it? David McDowall and Colin Loftin
    Part III. Sources of Divergence in the NCVS:
    5. Methodological change in the NCVS and the effect on convergence Shannan M. Catalano
    6. Series victimizations and divergence Mike Planty
    7. Exploring differences in estimates of visits to emergency rooms for injuries from assaults using the NCVS and NHAMCS Jacqueline Cohen and James P. Lynch
    Part IV. Sources of Divergence in the UCR:
    8. Using NIBRS to study methodological sources of divergence between the UCR and NCVS Lynn A. Addington
    9. Explaining the divergence between UCR and NCVS aggravated assault trends Richard Rosenfeld
    10. Missing UCR data and divergence of the NCVS and UCR trends Michael D. Maltz
    Conclusion James P. Lynch and Lynn A. Addington.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • CJ Stats
    • Criminal Justice Research I: Research Methods
  • Editors

    James P. Lynch, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
    James P. Lynch is co-author (with Albert D. Biderman) of Understanding Crime Incidence Statistics: Why the UCR Diverges from the NCS and (with Rita J. Simon) of Immigration the World Over: Statutes, Policies and Practices. He has published in many journals including Criminology, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, and Justice Quarterly.

    Lynn A. Addington, American University, Washington DC
    Lynn A. Addington's recent work has appeared in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology and Homicide Studies and has been supported by grants from the American Education Research Association (National Center for Education Statistics - National Science Foundation), the American Statistical Association, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the National Institute of Justice.


    James P. Lynch, Lynn A. Addington, Michael Rand, Callie Rennison, Cynthia Barnett-Ryan, David McDowall, Colin Loftin, Shannan M. Catalano, Mike Planty, Jaqueline Cohen, Richard Rosenfeld, Michael D. Maltz

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