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Abstract Crime is a social concern and one of the biggest political issues in these days. As Fadaei-Tehrani (1990) said, an economic approach to understanding criminal behavior and the design of effective policies would be a helpful tool for dealing with the problem of criminal activity (p.1). From qualitative analysis, we conclude that the unemployment rate and media reporting are important factors for people to feel the economy is becoming worse.
Economic conditions are one of the contributing factors for rising crime rates. Also, we conclude that people believe that an economic downturn would lead to an upswing in crime. Based on simple liner regression analysis for unemployment rate and crime rate, there is a direct relationship between the two. The crime rate goes up as the unemployment rate goes up. Therefore, we can conclude that the crime rate increases as economic conditions worsen.
One of my purposes for researching the relationship between specific societal economic conditions and crime rates is to help national government officials in deciding national police policies. I hope that the result of this research will be helpful in making new anti-crime policies that take economic conditions into consideration. Crime is a social concern and one of the biggest political issues in recent days. As Fadaei-Tehrani (1990) said, an economic approach to understanding criminal behavior and the design of effective policies would be a helpful tool for dealing with the problem of criminal activity (p.1). One of our purposes for researching the relationship between specific societal economic conditions and crime rates is to help national government officials in deciding national police policies.
Is it true that there is a relationship between the crime rate and the state of the economy? It is difficult to define "economics" in a word, but for purposes of researching the relationship between the crime rate and the economy, I will use a economic indicator such as unemployment. I will touch on this more later. Cook & Zarkin discussed that despite the long history of criminology, research on crime and economic conditions remains limited, perhaps because of continuing skepticism among many economists that crime rates respond in any systematic or substantial way to short-run changes in the economy (as cited in Rosentfeld & Fornango, 2007, p.764). The linkage between crime and economic conditions in general and unemployment in particular is highly complex, multifactorial, conditional, and contextual (Chiricos 1987; Cook & Zarkin 1985; Freeman 1983; Land, Cantor, & Russell 1995; Wilson & Cook 1985, as cited in Herzog, 2005, p.205).
The crime rate is related to not only economic, but also many elements such as culture background and ethics. Even so, there is still some research which shows that there is a relationship between crime rate and economics. For example, Radzinowicz argued that specific economic conditions affect specific classes of people with regard to specific crimes (As cited in Hoffman, 1997, p.82). Rosentfeld & Fornango (2007) also concluded that the effects of collective economic perceptions should become an important focus of future research on crime trends (p.736).
2. Literature review Criminology has a long history, and there are lots of arguments with regard to the relationship between crime rate and economics. There is some research which concluded that macroeconomic conditions have a positive effect on crime (Hoffman, 1997, and Bennett & Shelley as cited in Bennett, 1991, p.343). The official crime rate is almost always higher among the poor (Fadaei-Tehrani, 1990, p.117). For example, Japan's postwar economic improvement may play a critical role in its generally declining crime rates (Roberts & LaFree, 2004, p.183, and Evan as cited in Tsushima, 1996).
Then, what kind of factors related to economic conditions might affect crime rates? There are arguments which focus on and support the relationship between unemployment rates and crime rates. Under the economic model, if unemployment is reduced, the level of crime should decline (Fadaei-Tehrani, 1990, p.125, and Devine, Sheley & Smith, 1988, p.417). On the other hand, Arvanites & Defina concluded that there are no significant effects of unemployment rates on state crime rates (as cited in Rosentfeld & Fornango, 2007, p.738). Part of the reason that there is no significant effect of unemployment rates on crime rates is that there are also opportunity and motivation effects on crime.
For example, opportunity reduces crime even when unemployment rates are high by reducing target attractiveness and by increasing guardianship (Cohen & Felson as cited in Rosentfeld & Fornango, 2007, p.737). Also, motivation effects are reflected in increased crime when unemployment blocks access to legitimate income-producing opportunities (Cloward & Ohlin as cited in Rosentfeld & Fornango, 2007, p.737).
Therefore, the relationship between crime rate and economic conditions is still controversial when we take the crime rate as a whole instead of dividing crime into smaller categories. There is some interesting research which concluded that the relationship between unemployment rates and crime rates can be positive, negative or null, depending on the type of crime (Cantor & Land, 1985, p.330).
For example, there is a significant positive relationship between the unemployment rate and rates of homicide and robbery, and the level of economic inequality and rates of larceny (Tsushima, 1996). On the other hand, there is different research which points to the direct economic nature of robbery compared to more violent crimes including homicide (Roberts & LaFree, 2004, p.200, and Wolfgang & Weiner as cited in Cantor & Land, 1985, p.329)
There is yet other research which argues the relationship more specifically. According to Rosentfeld & Fornango (2007), consumer sentiment had significant effects on robbery and property crime rates that were largely independent of the effects of unemployment and economic growth (p.735). They restricted the analysis to robbery and property crimes on the assumption that economic conditions are more likely to affect crimes with a transparent economic motivation than so-called expressive crimes, including a large proportion of homicides and serious assaults (p.763). They also argued that many car thefts are committed for "joy riding" without direct economic motivation (p.763).