Since the very beginning of civilisation, the one thing that disrupts humanity is the growing crime rates. The magnitude of crime has blown over and there is a need for preventing crimes from happening. Back in 1999, the local government along with federal and state government had to spend more than $146 billion in order to prevent and control crime. There is a lot of effort put into eliminating crime and yet the crime rates have only increased with time.
Unemployment has a direct connection with growing crime rates since with deterioration of living standards (that come with unemployment), the crime rates increase. People steal; commit various crimes to have money. The emotional structures of the unemployed people crumble down owing to rise of desires and decline of measures to look after the family. Their inability of finding money to fulfil the materialistic desires makes them more prone to committing crimes like burglary and robbery.
THE LINK BETWEEN UNEMPLOYMENT AND FLUCTUATIONS IN CRIME RATES
There are two kinds of belief regarding unemployment and crime. The first school of thought lays emphasis on the supply of offenders while the other lays emphasis on the supply of victims. The crime-unemployment relationship is studied under the notion that what would happen to the offenders when there is little or no economic supply. With the increase in unemployment, there is a decrease in the production of new items and consumption rate. There is lesser stuff on the market to get stolen. Cantor and Land noted that in order for a crime to take place, there is need of a motivated offender along with a suitable target.
In 1985, Cantor and Land developed a theory-based model which suggested two ways in which economic activity can influence the rate of crimes. The first one focused on increasing the motivation for committing crimes in the people with a decrease in monetary supplies, giving rise to lack of social control. The second way focussed on influencing the vulnerability and availability of criminals which gives rise to opportunities of committing crimes. On the basis of expectations with the theory and the research work done, the strongest pattern of crime motivation is for the property crimes like larceny, burglary and theft of motor vehicle.
According to 2016’s US Bureau of Labour Statistics, approximately 7.9 million people (5% of working people) remain in the clutches of unemployment. According to the Federal Government, the count only limits to the people who are available for work but have no job. There is a gap in the Bureau’s count which does not include those people who are not looking for employment or are out of work. Owing to lack of employment opportunities, according to Economic Policy Institute, more than 2.9 million workers are not even looking for employment anymore.
A study by two scholars from Florida State University tried to find the link between growing crime rates and unemployment. Gary Kleck and Dylan Jackson undertook people falling into four kinds of joblessness.
- Type 1 Unemployed- people who didn’t have a full-time job but were actively seeking a job.
- Type 2 Unemployed- people who worked part-time but desired to have a full-time work.
- Type 3 Unemployed- people who didn’t get work because of socially acceptable reasons like retirement, disability, nurturing small children etc.
- Type 4 Unemployed- people who didn’t look for any job and do not belong to any other category of unemployed people.
It was found that Type 4 people are more likely to commit crimes like robbery and burglary. People who were unemployed but were looking for jobs are not likely to commit burglary or robbery. Underemployed people might engage in the robbery.
They further divided the group into five statuses- Unemployed according to the Government, out of work because of socially acceptable reasons, underemployed, out of work without any reason, fully employed. They found that people do not engage in criminal activities when they are underemployed or completely unemployed. The criminal psychology takes birth in the minds of people who cannot find work without any socially acceptable reasons. There is lesser property crime when people have part-time jobs since they are occupied with work rather than sitting idle. It was also found that burglary crimes increase when people between the ages of 18 and 29 remain Type 4 jobless.
The negative relationship between unemployment and crime is a new thought which needs further investigation. It is believed that the negative effect of unemployment on property crime rates is because of the fluctuation in poverty rates. It is also seen that if the average legal income in a specific region increases, the potential offender will have more legal income than the normal, which would eliminate the need for conducting any crime. At the same time, higher average legal income also indicates higher crime rates since there will be more to steal from. When it comes to property crimes, the latter proves to hold true.