Freeman

ARTICLE

Cause and Effect: Crime and Poverty

How Does Crime Cause Poverty?

MARCH 01, 1997 by ROGER M. CLITES

Professor Clites teaches at Tusculum College in Tennessee.

It is often asserted that poverty causes crime. I suggest that crime causes poverty.

Obviously crime victims are made worse off when they are burglarized or mugged. But there are many other people who are made worse off indirectly by crime.

A high crime rate will drive businesses out of a neighborhood. This eliminates both availability of products and services and a source of jobs. Further, those who do stay find it necessary to charge higher prices to offset losses due to thievery and higher costs of both security measures and insurance premiums—if insurance is available at all.

Property values are driven down by a smaller demand because of the greater difficulty potential purchasers have in obtaining mortgage loans.

The loss of productive activity by those who live by preying on others reduces the output of the area in which they live. Thus, crime injures economically both direct victims and others in the crime-ridden neighborhood.

Just as all people are better off in a society where a large portion of people are more educated and more productive, all people in a crime-infested area become worse off than they otherwise would be.

It is not just others who are adversely affected by criminals. Perpetrators themselves lose ground economically. A large portion of people charged with criminal activity are relatively young. Their criminal behavior harms them in several ways. They may spend time incarcerated when they could have been gaining employment experience. Their criminal record may hamper them in obtaining future employment. They develop attitudes and habits that are detrimental to participation in the workplace. For these reasons many criminals condemn themselves to poverty.

Crime is a major cause of poverty.

ASSOCIATED ISSUE

March 1997

comments powered by Disqus

EMAIL UPDATES

* indicates required
Sign me up for...

CURRENT ISSUE

July/August 2014

The United States' corporate tax burden is the highest in the world, but innovators will always find a way to duck away from Uncle Sam's reach. Doug Bandow explains how those with the means are renouncing their citizenship in increasing numbers, while J. Dayne Girard describes the innovative use of freeports to shield wealth from the myriad taxes and duties imposed on it as it moves around the world. Of course the politicians brand all of these people unpatriotic, hoping you won't think too hard about the difference between the usual crony-capitalist suspects and the global creative elite that have done so much to improve our lives. In a special tech section, Joseph Diedrich, Thomas Bogle, and Matthew McCaffrey look at various ways these innovators add value to our lives--even in ways they probably never expected.
Download Free PDF

PAST ISSUES

SUBSCRIBE

RENEW YOUR SUBSCRIPTION