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Crime Rates and Poverty - A Reexamination

NCJ Number
Crime and Social Justice Issue: 25 Dated: (1986) Pages: 166-177
L Lieberman; A B Smith
Date Published
12 pages
This study correlated 1970 U.S. census data on variables associated with poverty with Uniform Crime Reports data for 1970-1979.
The study hypothesized that high rates of poverty indicators for 1970 would positively correlate with high crime rates for the following decade in 65 Standard Metropolitan Statistical areas with populations of at least 500,000 persons. The poverty-related variables examined were low educational achievement, high unemployment rates, female-headed households, and a high percentage of families below the low-income level. Low education and the percent of female-headed families correlated positively with the violent crime rate, and unemployment rates positively correlated with property crime. Only the percent of families below the poverty level positively correlated with both violent crime and property crime rates. There are no other social variables theoretically linked to crime that can plausibly explain the correlation consistency over time. The data indicate that socioeconomic policies to increase employment, reduce poverty, and strengthen the family should reduce the crime rate. 15 references and 4 data tables.


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