Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Crime and the economy 2

Earlier I noted the article by Heather MacDonald from the Wall Street Journal which raised the question, in terms of the US, If poverty is the root cause of lawlessness, why did crime rates fall when joblessness increased? Fred Hansen at the ASI blog notes a similar trend for the UK. He writes,
If you look at the latest crime statistics you are probably in for a surprise. Recorded crimes fell 5% to 4.7 million in 2009. Here are the latest stats for the UK:

* Violence against the person down 6%
* with injury down 7%
* Domestic burglary up 1%
* Offences against vehicles down 10%
* Theft from the person down 12%
* Criminal damage down 10%
* Robbery down 5%
* Drugs offences up 6%
But unemployment is also up in the UK, so we have the same question for the UK as for the US.

But perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised that the current data show something different from past data. As Papps and Winkelmann, who looked at the relationship between unemployment and crime in New Zealand, put it
The unemployment-crime relationship is an old issue. No consensus has been reached by economists during the last three decades, nor does one seem likely to emerge in the near future. (Papps and Winkelmann p. 68)
Those words were published in 2000 and if we accept 2010 as the near future, the current debate just proves Papps and Winkelmann right.
  • Papps, Kerry and Winkelmann, Rainer. 'Unemployment and Crime: New Evidence for an Old Question', New Zealand Economic Papers, June 2000, v. 34, iss. 1, pp. 53-71.

No comments: