Saturday, April 12, 2014
Mike Butler: Joblessness-crime link weak
Recorded crime on the East Coast increased over the past year, unlike everywhere else in New Zealand, prompting the area’s politicians to offer their solutions. But what are the actual causes of crime? The cause of crime is a major research area in criminology, with a large number of correlates proposed -- bearing in mind that correlation does not imply causation. But first, what did the politicians say?
Labour MP Meka Whaitiri (Ikaroa-Eawhiti) said in this week's edition of The Hastings Mail that the answer is employment. Labour’s Tukituki candidate Anna Lorck cited new jobs and adequate pay. Labour’s Napier hopeful Stuart Nash cited poverty and unemployment. National MP Craig Foss (Tukituki) said “crime problems were ingrained in some families who saw belonging to criminal gangs and violence as nothing out of the ordinary”.
The bad news for the wannabe Labour candidates is that there is only a slight tendency for studies to show a higher unemployment rate to be positively associated with higher crime.
Some better news for them is that somewhat inconsistent evidence indicates that there is a relationship between low income, percentage under the poverty line, few years of education, and high income inequality in an area where there is more crime.
For a quick run-down of the correlates of crime, this is what Wikipedia says:
Crime is most frequent in second and third decades of life.
Males commit more overall and violent crime. They also commit more property crime except shoplifting, which is about equally distributed between the genders. Males are more likely to reoffend.
Measures related to arousal such as heart rate and skin conductance are low among criminals.
A muscular body type is positively correlated with criminality specifically of the sexual nature.
Testosterone is positively correlated to criminality.
Low monoamine oxidase activity and low 5-HIAA levels are found among criminals.
Ethnically/racially diverse areas probably have higher crime rates compared to ethnically/racially homogeneous areas.
Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with later criminality. Low birth weight and perinatal trauma/birth complications may be more prevalent among criminals.
Child maltreatment, low parent-child attachment, marital discord/family discord, alcoholism and drug use in the family, and low parental supervision/monitoring are associated with criminality. Larger family size and later birth order are also associated.
Bed-wetting correlates with criminality.
Bullying is positively related to criminal behavior.
School disciplinary problems, truancy, low grade point average, and dropping out of high school are associated with criminality.
Childhood lead poisoning correlates with criminal activity approximately twenty years later.
High alcohol use, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism, as well as high illegal drug use and dependence are positively related to criminality in general.
Early age of first intercourse and more sexual partners are associated with criminality.
Few friends, criminal friends, and gang membership correlate positively with criminality.
High religious involvement, high importance of religion in one's life, membership in an organized religion, and orthodox religious beliefs are believed to be associated with less criminality. However, more secular nations have lower rates of violent crimes such as murder.
Criminals probably suffer from more illnesses.
Epilepsy appears to have a positive correlation with criminality.
Criminals are more frequently accidentally injured.
Childhood conduct disorder and adult antisocial personality disorder are associated with one another and criminal behavior.
Minor depression and probably clinical depression is more likely among offenders. Depression in the family is associated with criminality. Criminals are more likely to be suicidal.
Schizophrenia and criminality appear to be positively correlated.
There is a relationship between lower IQ and crime.
High impulsivity, high psychoticism, high sensation-seeking, low self control, high aggression in childhood, and low empathy and altruism are associated with criminality.
Higher total socioeconomic status (usually measured by wealth, occupational level, and years of education) correlate with less crime. Longer education is associated with less crime.
Higher income/wealth have a somewhat inconsistent correlation with less crime with the exception of self-report illegal drug use for which there is no relation.
Higher parental socioeconomic status probably has an inverse relationship with crime.
High frequency of changing jobs and high frequency of unemployment for a person correlate with criminality.
There is no consistent relationship between the state of the economy and crime rates. The same is true for differences in unemployment between different regions and crime rates.
Cities or counties with larger populations have higher crime rates. Poorly maintained neighborhoods correlate with higher crime rates. High residential mobility is associated with a higher crime rate. More taverns and alcohol stores, as well as more gambling and tourist establishments, in an area, are positively related to criminality.
There appears to be higher crime rates in the geographic regions of a country that are closer to the equator.
Crime rates vary with temperature depending on both short-term weather and season. The relationship between the hotter months of summer and a peak in rape and assault seems to be almost universal.
Risk of being a crime victim is highest for teens through mid 30s and lowest for the elderly. Fear of crime shows the opposite pattern. Criminals are more often crime victims. Females fear crimes more than males. Black people appear to fear crime more. Black people are more often victims, especially of murder
Both legal and illegal drugs are implicated in drug-related crime.
Children whose parents did not want to have a child are more likely to grow to be delinquents or commit crimes. Such children are also less likely to succeed in school, and are more likely to live in poverty.
Source Correlates of crime, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_and_correlates_of_crime
at 12:53 PM