It has been stated that the idea of association between the economic condition and the perpetration of crime is deeply embedded within the culture. As more people continuously lose their jobs and savings due to the spiraling of the economy, the sharp rise in crimes which include burglaries, car and house break-ins, larcenies and the likes has been observed, thereby catapulting people to believe that such activities have a tie with the financial gloom that is permeating today. In this respect, this paper sought to analyze the impact of the economy on the rise and fall of crime rates.
In a study done by Steven Box during 1987, he pointed out that “unemployment increases the pressure and incentives motivating crime” (Box n.p. qtd in Reiner 358). This is most especially true in property crimes such as burglary, theft, snatching and the likes. A crime will not occur unless there is a motivation involved. Economic factors have been emphasized both by sociological and psychological analysis as strong motivators for crime perpetration.
Economic variables such as unemployment, poverty and relative deprivation are seen as risk factors that could precipitate individuals to carry out crimes (Reiner). As stated by New Jersey’s Police Chief Erik Rose: “There are people that may have jobs and when they have jobs aren’t predisposed towards crime. But when they don’t have jobs–nothing justifies crime, but they may decide that’s an alternative” (qtd in Pinskton n.p.).
Nonetheless, with the growing desperation of consumers because of the high prices of products alongside the anger and frustration they have regarding the slowing down of the economy, police noted that these are motivating factors for individuals to engage in domestic violence, scams, and the willingness to buy products like iPods, cellular phones and the likes from pawnshops rather than in retail stores which in a greater sense further reinforces the underground economy to perpetrate more crimes to meet the demands of these people (Cramer).
Various cities in different states have also reported that there is an upsurge in drug arrests as well as forged prescriptions, which led people to theorize that the worse economy paves way for people to use drug as a form of escape. Additionally, the rise in domestic violence is also accounted to the tough economic times. At present, more and more programs that help battered women are receiving phone calls that are asking for help.
According to Toni Troop, the spokesperson for Jane Doe Inc, a statewide group of organizations that helps women victims of domestic violence, during hard economic times fewer options are available for women, its either they would leave home to look for job or they would just stay at home by themselves, and together with unemployment there is higher opportunity for an abuser to be present.
Considering that domestic violence is a process of exerting control other than an expression of anger and frustration, a loss of job can trigger an abuser to become more violent, wherein they could feel out of control, and once a person loses control of something in life one area where they can assert their power and control is through violence (Cramer). To top this off, as the economy
From the given perspective one may assume that as the economy goes down, crime rates are more likely to go higher. However, this is not always the case. The connection between economy and crime always comes with an admonition. Although it can be agreed that economic downfall usually leads to the rise of crime rates, it should also be understood that there are other factors that can affect the increase in number of crimes. The rates can go up when the population gets younger as per the usage of drug abuse and inclination to violent activities, while murder rates are at times influenced by gang activities. All these forces make it much harder to identify the rise and fall of crime rates (Wilson).
By some token, bad economy is not always an indication of higher crime rates, while good economy is not always an indication of lesser crime. The capacity to commit can also be affected by economic development.
As the economy develops, the routine activities of different groups are also changed, often shifting vulnerability into victimization (Felson qtd in Reiner). For instance, when people have more money they tend to spend more time on vacations leaving behind other individuals and properties behind, which makes those vulnerable to attacks (Field 3 qtd in Reiner 357). Similarly the changes in the labor market also affect crime perpetration. Overtime unemployment is often associated with committing offences. Conversely though, there are also types of employment that can be a ground for the commissioning of crimes at work (Field qtd in Reiner).
Considering the given perspectives, one question can be put forward: Can the economy really explain the rise and fall of crime rates? The answer is that at times yes, and sometimes no. The increases in crime rate during the 1990’s were the effects of declining economy, but the same thing could not be said with the Great Depression during 1930’s.
Although FBI data regarding the crime rates during that time were missing, several studies from different cities have pointed out that despite the downfall of the economy and even though one-quarter of the American population were unemployed, it was suggested that crime rates fell during that time, and one reasonable hypothesis regarding such fall on crime fluctuation during the Depression is that families were able to pull together at such period, that the cohesion they have made was able to inhibit the crime rate from uprising (Wilson).
But at this point, it is perhaps safe to say that the economy indeed has something to do with the rise of crime rate. As people are struggling to stay on their jobs, the poor performance of the economy today further reinforces individuals to commit crime in order to compensate for their way of living. With the higher expenditures placed on products and the impact of the crisis which does not only affect one country but has a global reach, then it is therefore applicable to say that the economy has something to do with crime rate increase.
Perhaps one of the most extensive explanations that can be laid on the given issue is that of the point of view of conventional economic analysis. A person is more likely to commit crimes if the reward that he or she would get is much higher compared to what he or she has (Reiner). Consider facing the biggest foreclosures in history, alongside the highest recorded job lay offs and the continuous bankruptcy of big companies; from here the changing economic circumstances of today is a strong determining factor that can motivate individuals to commit crime (Reiner).
Apparently, there is a strong connection between the economy and the rise and fall of crime rates. Although, history have shown that there is no consistency with regards to the link between economy and crime, still in one way or another the economy has something to do with the increase and decrease in crime rates. At some point the downfall of the economy is proven of less value to the off shoot of crime rates, but at present it is evident that the financial gloom is the main reason for increased crime rates, which is apparent from the reported continuous jump of property crimes ranging from burglary to scams.
The complexity of the relationship between crime and economy has not been thoroughly explained. Yet, with the increasing number of crimes perpetrated at this period when the economy is swooning, it may not be justifiable to say that one had nothing to do with the other, because in one way or another, may it be direct or indirect economy has something to do with crime.
Cramer, Maria. “Economy fuels rise in crime, police say.” The Boston Globe. 10 March 2009. 07 May 2009 <http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/03/10/economy_fuel s_rise_in_crime_police_say/>.
Pinkston, Randall. “Tough economy fuels crime, shoplifting.” CBS News. 23 December 2008. 07 May 7, 2009 <http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/12/23/eveningnews/main4684830.shtml>.
Reiner, Robert. “Political economy, crime, and criminal justice.” Maguire, Mike, Morgan Rodney and Reiner, Robert [eds.]. The Oxford handbook of criminology fourth edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007
Wilson, James Q. “Crime and economy don’t tell whole story.” Los Angeles Times. 08 January 2009. 07 May 2009 <http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la- oe-wilson8-2009jan08,0,1034978.story>.