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Contextual Analysis of Crime Rates: The Korean Case

NCJ Number
Crime, Law & Social Change Volume: 43 Issue: 1 Dated: 2005 Pages: 31-55
Ok-Kyung Yoon; Hee-Jong Joo
Date Published
25 pages
This study examined the relative roles of economic conditions, organizational constraints of police, and political climate in explaining changes in crime rates in Korea.
Today, criminologists perceive official crime data as a social construct, where they attempt to explain crime data in relation to social structural conditions, such as police practice, economic conditions and political climate. This study sought to determine the relative role of economic conditions, organizational constraints, and political climate to explain changes in crime rates. It examined structural correlates of crime rates, focusing on economic conditions, police functions, and the political process. The study tested the relevance of structural explanations to crime data in South Korea. Findings indicate that the relationships between social structural changes and crime rates can be summarized in that the unemployment rate is the best predictor of changes in crime rates. Unemployment increased the level of both property and violent crimes. Unsurprisingly, the total crime rate also increased as unemployment increased. However, crime rates were somewhat lower during the past three military regimes, supporting the argument that authoritarian governments exercised more punitive sanctions to deter crimes. Tables and references