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The Effects of Unemployment on Property Crime: Evidence from a Period of Unusually Large Swings in the Business Cycle

  • Edmark, Karin


    (Department of Economics)

This paper uses a panel of Swedish counties over the years 1988-99 to study the effects of unemployment on property crime rates. The period under study is characterized by great turbulence in the labor market - the variation in the unemployment rates is unprecedented in the second half of the century. The data hence provides a unique opportunity to investigate unemployment effects. According to the theory of economics of crime, increased unemployment rates lead to higher property crime rates. A fixed effects model is estimated to investigate this hypothesis. The model includes time- and county-specific effects and a number of economic and socio-demographic variables in order to control for unobservables and covariates. In addition the model is estimated with linear and quadratic time trends to control for county-specific unobserved trends. The result gives strong evidence that unemployment has a positive and significant effect on burglary, car theft and bike theft.

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Paper provided by Uppsala University, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 2003:14.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 25 Mar 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published as Edmark, Karin, 'Unemployment and Crime: Is there a connection?' in Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 2005, pages 353-373.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:uunewp:2003_014
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, Uppsala University, P. O. Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Phone: + 46 18 471 25 00
Fax: + 46 18 471 14 78
Web page:

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  1. Entorf, Horst & Spengler, Hannes, 2000. "Socioeconomic and demographic factors of crime in Germany: Evidence from panel data of the German states," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 75-106, March.
  2. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 1999. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," CEPR Discussion Papers 2129, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Papps, Kerry L. & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Unemployment and Crime: New Answers to an Old Question," IZA Discussion Papers 25, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence From Prison Overcrowding Litigation," NBER Working Papers 5119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Witte, Ann D & Tauchen, Helen, 1994. "Work and Crime: An Exploration Using Panel Data," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 155-67.
  6. Joanne M. Doyle & Ehsan Ahmed & Robert N. Horn, 1999. "The Effects of Labor Markets and Income Inequality on Crime: Evidence from Panel Data," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 65(4), pages 717-738, April.
  7. Freeman, Richard B., 1999. "The economics of crime," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 52, pages 3529-3571 Elsevier.
  8. Ann Dryden Witte & Helen Tauchen, 1994. "Work and Crime: An Exploration Using Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 4794, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
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