Crime During Recessions

One interesting topic to study is the issue of crime in troubled economic periods. The common consensus amongst society leans towards when the economy is bad, crime will go up. When the economy is doing great, crime will naturally fall. Is this true?

It is not quite that simple. We have plenty of factors to consider. First we must take into consideration that people have a moral compass. Society has a basic understanding of what is right and what is wrong. Before we dive into the correlation between unstable economic times and crime rates, we must take into consideration the moral compass we all have within ourselves.

Generally speaking, inflicting any sort of harm or suffering towards another person is something that no major religion preaches to its followers or is in any of its sacred texts. The data provided shows us that religious populations are expected to increase consistently with Islam growing the fastest through 2050.

Society has a moral compass. The practice of religion helps to further promote peace & happiness. This is one factor to consider when discussing the correlation between crime rates and economies in a recession or depression. It is not like the movies where society and civilization loses all faith and any sort of moral compass during troubled times.

I also recognize that if someone wishes to cause harm to another person, nothing will stop him, let alone religion. Those small minorities exist. The general consensus and the moral compass we all have within ourselves generally speaking does play a significant role in our lives.

When we do look at crime rates, violent crime has been declining since 1990. We average a recession every seven to eight years. The most recent recession, the ‘great recession’ also continued to see a drop in crime rates throughout the financial crisis.

One argument that may be proposed is during troubled economic times, households having financial difficulties will not resort towards violent crimes such as murder or rape but rather theft and crimes that will immediately better their families financially such as robbery. We have data for property crimes and robbery as well.

Crime has generally been on the decline for the last 20 years. Yes, we have isolated cities and communities who suffer from increased violence such as the south side of Chicago but these are isolated ares. Generally, the nation has seen a drop in crime rates. We will always have examples of certain areas where crime is on the rise but when we look at the data provided, we are safer today than 20 years ago.

When we highlight the great recession from 2007–2009, we notice that even through the ‘great recession’, crime has been on the decline nationally. During the ‘dot com’ bubble in 2000, we continued to see a drop in crime rates. People have a moral compass and will stick to that moral compass even through difficult financial times.

We have not seen a complete collapse of our financial system and inflation at levels unimaginable where your dollar is practically worthless to see the movie style violence and riots on our streets. That is great for hollywood films, but not in reality.

The theory that when the economy is in a recession or depression that crime will rise is false. We have not seen that correlation given the data.

We must take into consideration that when the economy is in a recession or depression, families and individuals have less disposable income. Unemployment will increase, many will be without employment and the opportunities for employment will be scarce as the economy unfortunately shifts into austerity. You will not find many people amongst our communities out spending on goods and services as frequently. You will not see many people out to enjoy nightlife because they have minimal if any disposable income. Many are going to basically be stuck at home and looking for employment. Families and individuals will aggressively look to save by immediately making serious cuts on spending while you will see an increase in spending towards necessities.

See the data provided below.

I would like to draw your attention towards the decrease in expenditure towards entertainment, insurance, and even personal care. It is also important to take notice the increase in expenditure towards necessities such as healthcare, housing, food, and education.

Another interesting find is the data that directly correlates to my recent post ‘no time to be fine’ where as a result of a lagging economy and wage stagnation, many are forced to take up an extra job/shifts and work more hours to maintain there standard of living thus leaving less time for personal care, reading, vacation, time with the family, and overall any time for leisure and entertainment. We notice on the data provided by Morgan Stanley, an investment bank, that we are spending less on personal care and reading.

We will see an increase of families and individuals on welfare. What does this mean in terms of crime and the economy? Those on welfare will quickly recognize the constant shadow of the government over there shoulder throughout there daily life. Those on welfare are indirectly pressured from the government to behave and steer away from criminal activities in order to continue receiving the aid they need. To put it another way, the government is now your sugar-daddy. Do something that goes against the wishes of your sugar-daddy, the compensatory relationship between you and your sugar-daddy ends.

Wage stagnation and the increase in prices of goods and services has left many resorting towards different measures to make ends meet. ‘Working harder’ is no longer what it used to be. Americans have maintained a consistent increase in productivity but wages have not kept up. Americans are being forced towards obtaining a second job and working more hours to maintain there standard of living. We have also seen an increase in women entering the workforce to help maintain the standard of living for families. Traditionally, one person working per household was enough to provide for the family and have some left over for savings, emergency funds, education, and a vacation. That is no longer the case.

The data above provides us the decrease in the amount families are saving as we are tapping into those emergency funds to help pay off debt, increasing costs of goods and services, and the increase in cost for education. Debt, is a serious issue.

Many of us in the near future will be on welfare due to globalization and the automation of many jobs. Technology will be taking over. It is with this we understand that with the growing expenditure on welfare, more people understand the risks of committing criminal activity. You will lose your aid thus indirectly keeping people in check.

Crime has been on the decline even through our most recent troubled economic times.

My prediction for the near future will be crime will continue to fall as welfare expenditures and welfare recipients rise. Welfare recipients recognize the risks of losing financial aid from the government if they are caught committing any crimes and prosecuted. The rise in welfare recipients and the growth in welfare expenditures tells us that the government has a farther reach on indirectly affecting the daily lives of more Americans than before through financial assistance as its primary resource. I would also like to bring to your attention that those with a criminal record in a small percentage of states can still apply for financial assistance but the process for someone with a criminal record receiving any financial assistance is very, very difficult to almost impossible.

Please stop with what your feelings are saying get in the way of what the data and facts are telling us.

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-Medi