The Importance of “Time” in Analysis

Brad A. Myrstol

This short video is intended to help everyday people interpret basic crime statistics. In this video, data on rates of larceny theft in Alaska for 1985–2016 are used to demonstrate the importance of time in analyzing whether crime is trending upward, trending downward, or remaining flat. If we use short timeframes (one year, five years), we would conclude that larceny theft rates in Alaska have gone up. But if we use longer timeframes — 10 years all the up to 30 years — our conclusions change: larceny theft crime in Alaska has actually decreased over over the 30-year period from 1985 to 2016. Using longer timeframes, we see that cime rates fluctuate up and down over time, and we're also able to make more accurate judgments of long-term trends. If our timeframe is too short, we run the risk of reaching faulty conclusions about crime trends.

A transcript of this program is available in PDF.

Reference

“The Importance of ‘Time’ in Analysis” (streaming video) by Brad A. Myrstol. Interpreting Crime Statistics: The Basics. (3:55 mins.). Produced and edited by Eric Baldwin, UAA Academic Innovations and eLearning. Anchorage, AK: Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage, 26 Oct 2017.