Seth Stephens-Davidowitz cleverly uses google searches to uncover the link between rising unemployment and child abuse.
After declining for many years in the United States, the searches that seem to have come from abuse victims themselves rose as soon as the Great Recession began. On weeks that unemployment claims rose, these searches rose as well. Searches that appear to have originated with people who suspect abuse also provide evidence that the increase is caused by the economic downturn. Controlling for pre-recession rates and national trends, states that had comparatively suffered the most had increased search rates for child abuse and neglect. Each percentage point increase in the unemployment rate was associated with a 3 percent increase in the search rate for “child abuse” or “child neglect.”
He also shows that budget cuts are taking a noticeable toll and likely result in understated crime statistics.
When you compare places that Google search data suggest have similar levels of abuse or neglect, you find that the less an area spends on social services for children, the lower its reported rates of child maltreatment. My research also shows that when a particular group’s budget is reduced, it reports fewer cases of maltreatment. Cut resources for teachers, for example, and teachers report fewer of their suspicions. […] Consider, for example, Detroit. Its police department recently reported 20 percent reductions in some major crimes. Might this be because of dwindling police department resources? The average time it takes to get a response to an emergency call to the Detroit police is now 58 minutes, and many precincts have stopped taking crime reports in evening hours.