Factors affecting individual propensity to crime include:
- adverse childhood experiences (Reavis et al., 2013), including
- chronic parental conflict (Loeber & Stouthamer-Loeber, 1986);
- family breakdown (Schuerman & Kobrin, 1986);
- lack of access to education (Lochner & Moretti, 2004);
- poverty (Anser et al., 2020), both
- living in absolute poverty (Dong et al., 2020) and
- living below the country-specific poverty line (Imran et al., 2018);
- reduced informal social control in an area, including:
- exclusion of demographic groups from civic life (Sampson et al., 1997).
- substance addiction (Rafaiee et al., 2013);
- unemployment (Anser et al., 2020), which is linked to property crime specifically (NZ Ministry of Justice, 2009).
Policy actions we could take to reduce crime, therefore, might include:
- increasing access to addiction treatment programs (McCollister & French, 2003);
- increasing access to psychological and psychiatric healthcare (Wen et al., 2017);
- increasing unemployment benefits (Melick, 2003; Mesters et al., 2015) from their current c. 50% of the Henderson poverty line (Melbourne Institute, 2021) to a point at or above it;
- making education, all the way up to tertiary vocational and academic education, more accessible (Nordin, 2017);
- reducing the price of accessing healthcare services (Anser et al., 2020).
Things that do not appear likely to help, or appear likely to make things worse, include:
- high arrest rates (Brown, 1978);
- “zero-tolerance” policing (Braga et al., 2015);
- imprisoning more people (Harding et al., 2019);
- locking them up for longer (Hoel & Gelb, 2008).
Anser, M.K., Yousaf, Z., Nassani, A.A., Alotaibi, S.M., Kabbani, A., & Zaman, K. (2020, June 5). Dynamic linkages between poverty, inequality, crime, and social expenditures in a panel of 16 countries: Two-step GMM estimates. Journal of Economic Structures, 9, 43. doi:10.1186/s40008-020-00220-6.
Braga, A.A., Welsh, B.C., & Schnell, C. (2015, June 4). Can policing disorder reduce crime? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 52(4), 567-588. doi:10.1177/0022427815576576.
Britt, C.L. (1994, January). Crime and unemployment among youths in the United States, 1958-1990: A time series analysis. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 53(1), 99-109.
Brown, D.W. (1978, December). Arrest rates and crime rates: When does a tipping effect occur?. Social Forces, 57(2), 671-682. doi:10.2307/2577689.
Dong, B., Egger, P.H., & Guo, Y. (2020, May 18). Is poverty the mother of crime? Evidence from homicide rates in China?. PLoS One, 15(5), e0233034. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0233034.
Harding, D.J., Morenoff, J.D., Nguyen, A.P., Bushway, S.D., & Binswanger, I.A. (2019, May 13). A natural experiment study of the effects of imprisonment on violence in the community. Nature Human Behaviour, 3, 671-677. doi:10.1038/s41562-019-0604-8.
Hoel, A., & Gelb, K. (2008, August). Sentencing matters: Mandatory sentencing. Victorian State Government Sentencing Advisory Council.
Imran, M., Hosen, M., & Chowdhury, M.A.F. (2018, September 25). Does poverty lead to crime? Evidence from the United States of America. International Journal of Social Economics, 45(10), 1424-1438. doi:10.1108/IJSE-04-2017-0167.
Lochner, L., & Moretti, E. (2004, March). The effect of education on crime: Evidence from prison inmates, arrests, and self-reports. American Economic Review, 94(1), 155-189.
Loeber, R., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1986). Family factors as correlates and predictors of juvenile conduct problems and delinquency (pp. 29—149). In M. Tonry & N. Morris (Eds.), Crime and justice: An annual review of research (vol. 7). University of Chicago Press.
McCollister, K.E., & French, M.T. (2003, December). The relative contribution of outcome domains in the total economic benefit of addiction interventions: A review of first findings. Addiction, 98(12), 1647-1659. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2003.00541.x.
Melbourne Institute (2021, April). Poverty lines: Australia — December quarter 2020. University of Melbourne.
Melick, M.D. (2003, April). The relationship between crime and unemployment. Park Place Economist, 11(1), 13.
Mesters, G., van der Geest, V., & Bijleveld, C. (2015, June 17). Crime, employment and social welfare: An individual-level study on disadvantaged males. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 32, 159-190. doi:10.1007/s10940-015-9258-5.
New Zealand Ministry of Justice (2009, March). Strategic policy brief: Social risk factors for involvement in crime.
Nordin, M. (2017, May 19). Does eligibility for tertiary education affect crime rates? Quasi-experimental evidence. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 34, 805-829. doi:10.1007/s10940-017-9355-8.
Rafaiee, R., Olyaee, S., & Sargolzaiee, A. (2013, December 22). The relationship between the type of crime and drugs in addicted prisoners in Zahedan central prison. International Journal of High Risk Behaviors, 2(3), 139-140. doi:10.5182/ijhrba.13977.
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Weatherburn, D. (2001, February). Contemporary issues in crime and justice: What causes crime?. Crime and Justice Bulletin, 54. New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.
Wen, H., Hockenberry, J.M., & Cummings, J.R. (2017, October). The effect of Medicaid expansion on crime reduction: Evidence from HIFA-waiver expansions. Journal of Public Economics, 154, 67-94. doi:10.1016/j.jpubeco.2017.09.001.