Unemployment, Income Inequality, and Crime: A Cross-National Analysis

Doris Chu, University at Albany
Hung-En Sung, Columbia University

Some perspective in criminology hypothesizes that increasing unemployment should increase the motivation for property crime. Strain theories posit that impediments to the attainment of culturally prescribed success, such as relative inequality in status or income, may propvide some individual as a justification for committing some types of crime. This research formulates a theoretical framework by incorporating the two perspectives and uses a multi-national data to test the theory. First, it examines the relationship between unemployment rate and property crime among nations. Second, it investigates the relationship between income inequality and property crime, violent crime among nations. Third, it estimates whether unemployment impacts crime rate differently depending upon relative income inequality.

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Updated 05/20/2006