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Personal indebtedness, community characteristics and theft crimes

  • McIntyre, Stuart G

Becker (1968) and Stigler (1970) provide the germinal works for an economic analysis of crime, and their approach has been utilised to consider the response of crime rates to a range of economic, criminal and socioeconomic factors. Until recently however this did not extend to a consideration of the role of personal indebtedness in explaining the observed pattern of crime. This paper uses the Becker (1968) and Stigler (1970) framework, and extends to a fuller consideration of the relationship between economic hardship and theft crimes in an urban setting. The increase in personal debt in the past decade has been significant, which combined with the recent global recession, has led to a spike in personal insolvencies. In the context of the recent recession it is important to understand how increases in personal indebtedness may spillover into increases in social problems like crime. This paper uses data available at the neighbourhood level for London, UK on county court judgments (CCJ's) granted against residents in that neighbourhood, this is our measure of personal indebtedness, and examines the relationship between a range of community characteristics (economic, socio-economic, etc), including the number of CCJ's granted against residents, and the observed pattern of theft crimes for three successive years using spatial econometric methods. Our results confirm that theft crimes in London follow a spatial process, that personal indebtedness is positively associated with theft crimes in London, and that the covariates we have chosen are important in explaining the spatial variation in theft crimes. We identify a number of interesting results, for instance that there is variation in the impact of covariates across crime types, and that the covariates which are important in explaining the pattern of each crime type are largely stable across the three periods considered in this analysis.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10943/524
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Paper provided by Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE) in its series SIRE Discussion Papers with number 2013-99.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:edn:sirdps:524
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  1. Pyle, David & Deadman, Derek, 1994. "Crime and Unemployment in Scotland: Some Further Results," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 41(3), pages 314-24, August.
  2. George J. Stigler, 1974. "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 55-67 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Carmichael, Fiona & Ward, Robert, 2001. "Male unemployment and crime in England and Wales," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 111-115, October.
  4. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. Reilly, Barry & Witt, Robert, 1992. "Crime and Unemployment in Scotland: An Econometric Analysis Using Regional Data," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 39(2), pages 213-28, May.
  7. Michelle J. White, 2007. "Bankruptcy Reform and Credit Cards," NBER Working Papers 13265, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. G�ran Therborn & K.C. Ho, 2009. "Introduction," City, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(1), pages 53-62, March.
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  11. Michelle J. White, 2007. "Bankruptcy Reform and Credit Cards," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 175-200, Fall.
  12. Stephen Zeldes, . "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 24-85, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  13. Stuart McIntyre & Donald Lacombe, 2012. "Personal Indebtedness, Spatial Effects and Crime," Working Papers 1209, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
  14. J. Barkley Rosser, 2009. "Introduction," Chapters, in: Handbook of Research on Complexity, chapter 1 Edward Elgar.
  15. McIntyre, Stuart G. & Lacombe, Donald J., 2012. "Personal indebtedness, spatial effects and crime," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(2), pages 455-459.
  16. Sanjit Dhami & Ali al-Nowaihi, 2011. "An extension of the Becker proposition to non-expected utility theory," Discussion Papers in Economics 11/41, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
  17. Caroline Elliott & Dan Ellingworth, 1998. "Exploring the relationship between unemployment and property crime," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(8), pages 527-530.
  18. Nicholas C. Barberis, 2012. "Thirty Years of Prospect Theory in Economics: A Review and Assessment," NBER Working Papers 18621, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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