In this report, we will focus on the relationship between crime rates and economic conditions. When we experience an economic downturn, what effect will it have on us? We asked this question in the interviews which we conducted, and we concluded that the unemployment rate is an important factor for people to feel that the economy is becoming worse, as I will discuss later. Second, if we lose our jobs, see our salaries decrease, and see depreciation in purchasing power, we may struggle to make a living and look for other sources of money to survive. This situation might lead some people to commit robbery. The strain of grief from making a living during bad conditions might lead some people to become desperate or irritated. The more people who become desperate or irritated, the more crimes there would be. For example, a conflict over debt might escalate to assault or murder.
Third, with a decreased salary, some people might start to feel inequality in that they are not receiving adequate compensation for the work that they are doing. Given this situation, their ethical level might fall to the point that they commit white color crimes. Thus, logically thinking, crime rates would increase as economic conditions worsen. Our hypothesis is that crime rates increase as economic conditions worsen. The crime rate which we use for our project consists of crimes of murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, aggravated assault, property crime, robbery, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.
To break it down, prominently money related crimes would include property crime, robbery, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape and aggravated assault are not crimes motivated by money directly, and those seem to have nothing to do with economic conditions. However, rates of murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape and aggravated assault would also increase if economic conditions got worse. In my thinking, people might commit those violent crimes because of stress, depression or desperation caused by poverty.
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Therefore, we look at crime rate as a whole, not segmented. For qualitative analysis section For qualitative analysis, we interviewed three people concerning crime and economic conditions. To know how citizens feel about crime and economic conditions, I chose two people who work in private companies and one person who works in a public organization. Two of them are not married, and one has a family. Their ages are in the range of 30-50 years old.
I asked the following four questions. 1. Under what kind of economic conditions would you think that the economy had gotten worse? 2. Do you think it's true that crime rates would increase as economic conditions worsen? Why? 3. If you lose your job and have no way to earn money, do you think you would commit a crime to make a living? 4. Do you have any friends or acquaintances who committed a crime because he or she didn't have another way to earn money due to worsened economic conditions?
For quantitative analysis section
According to Rosentfeld & Fornango (2007), disagreement exists over how best to measure the economic conditions that are most relevant to criminal activity. And the unemployment rate is by far the economic indicator of choice in research on the impact of economic conditions on crime rates (p.736). Arvanites & Defina argued persuasively for the use of a broader indicator than the unemployment rate to measure crime-relevant economic conditions (as cited in Rosentfeld & Fornango, 2007, p.738).
And they use real Gross State Product (GSP) per capita, which is a state-level analog for Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to represent the totality of economic conditions with a potential influence on crime (as cited in Rosentfeld & Fornango, 2007, p.738). On the other hand, Rosentfeld & Fornango (2007) argued that no indicator measures the impact of unemployment, income, or other conditions on collective perceptions of economic hardship (p.739).
Taking their arguments into consideration, to examine how economic conditions affect crime rates, we still use the unemployment rate as an economic indicator in my research. The unemployment rate indicates the rate of people who currently do not have a way of making a living or earning money. And based on the interviews, even if people would never commit a crime in a normal situation, if they could not feed or house themselves or their families, they may resort to stealing or other crimes to survive if they were desperate.
This suggests that the unemployment rate is one of the contributing factors for a higher crime rate. Based on the interviews, the unemployment rate is an important factor for people to feel that the economy is becoming worse. Therefore, the unemployment rate indicates the economic conditions in light of crime rates. With this indicator, we examine the crime rate which includes murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, aggravated assault, property crime, robbery, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft rates of Pakistan between the period 1999-2008.
There is a lot of research concerning the relationship between unemployment and crime rates. However, as Kleck and Chiricos (2002) pointed out, employment in low pay, part-time, and contingent jobs could have substantial motivational consequence for crime apart from any effects of unemployment. And undoubtedly, such"underemployment" is a major contributor to poverty. The reason that I use unemployment rate instead of discouraged workers rate is that regardless of the motivation for looking for a job, people under unemployment do not have a stable income. And that means that there is still a comparatively high possibility for them to commit a crime for money.
I have taken the Pakistan's 10 years unemployment rate and crime rate to examine the relationship between crime rate and economic conditions. As Long ; Witte argued, the relationship between specific societal economic conditions and crime rates remains ambiguous, though the search for links between specific societal economic conditions and crime rates has an extensive history in the sociological literature (as cited in Devine, Sheley ; Smith, 1988, p.407
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