Writing in the journal Applied Economics, Steve Cook and Duncan Watson (both from the University of Wales Swansea) and Louise Parker (from the University of East Anglia) take a closer look at two ways that unemployment impacts on crime: the ‘opportunity’ effect (a strong economy means more goods worth stealing, and fewer people sat at home to guard them) and the ‘motivation’ effect (a weak economy widens perceived differences between lifestyles and can tempt some into crime).
After crunching data gathered from the US Bureau of Labor and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics, the team analysed them further for gender effects. Their most important finding was that female unemployment but not male unemployment showed ‘significant opportunity effects for aggregate violent crime, aggregate property crime and components of violent crime.’ In other words, high female unemployment means a higher likelihood of higher crime rates.
Contrary to the expectations of previous studies, the opportunity effects here are counter-cyclical. Their results did not support the traditional ‘latchkey’ theory that high female employment increases crime because women were working rather than looking after their children.
Their results also did not support the idea that by challenging gender roles, female employment contributes to an increase in crime, especially domestic violence.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at