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Crime and Income Inequality: The Case of Malaysia


  • Baharom, A.H.
  • Habibullah, M.S.


This paper examines the causality between income inequality and crime in Malaysia for the period 1973-2003. Autoregressive Distributed Lag (ARDL) bounds testing procedure is employed to (1) analyze the impact of income inequality on various categories of criminal activities as well as to (2) analyze the impact of various categories of criminal activities on income inequality. Interestingly our results indicate that income inequality has no meaningful relationship with any of the various categories of crime selected, such as total crime, violent crime, property crime, theft and burglary. Crime exhibits neither long-run nor short run relationships with income inequality and they are not cointegrated. It cannot be denied that there is ambiguity in the empirical studies of crime economics regarding various income variables leading to often mixed and contradicting results, which might be a good explanation of this finding.

Suggested Citation

  • Baharom, A.H. & Habibullah, M.S., 2008. "Crime and Income Inequality: The Case of Malaysia," MPRA Paper 11871, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:11871

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ayse İmrohoroĝlu & Antonio Merlo & Peter Rupert, 2006. "Understanding the determinants of crime," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 30(2), pages 270-284, June.
    2. 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.
    3. Matz Dahlberg & Magnus Gustavsson, 2008. "Inequality and Crime: Separating the Effects of Permanent and Transitory Income," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 70(2), pages 129-153, April.
    4. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman, 2002. "What causes violent crime?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(7), pages 1323-1357, July.
    5. John Chisholm & Chongwoo Choe, 2005. "Income variables and the measures of gains from crime," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(1), pages 112-119, January.
    6. Mehanna, Rock-Antoine, 2004. "Poverty and economic development: not as direct as it may seem," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 217-228, April.
    7. M. Hashem Pesaran & Yongcheol Shin & Richard J. Smith, 2001. "Bounds testing approaches to the analysis of level relationships," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(3), pages 289-326.
    8. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman, 2002. "Inequality and Violent Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 1-40, April.
    9. Lorenzo Blanco & Sandra Villa, 2008. "Sources of crime in the state of Veracruz: The role of female labor force participation and wage inequality," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(3), pages 51-75.
    10. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:11:y:2004:i:1:p:1-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Chiu, W. Henry & Madden, Paul, 1998. "Burglary and income inequality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 123-141, July.
    12. Brush, Jesse, 2007. "Does income inequality lead to more crime? A comparison of cross-sectional and time-series analyses of United States counties," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 264-268, August.
    13. Choe, Jongmook, 2008. "Income inequality and crime in the United States," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(1), pages 31-33, October.
    14. Narayan, Paresh Kumar & Narayan, Seema, 2005. "Estimating income and price elasticities of imports for Fiji in a cointegration framework," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 423-438, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Siti Nur Zahara HAMZAH & Evan LAU, 2013. "The role of social factors in explaining crime," Theoretical and Applied Economics, Asociatia Generala a Economistilor din Romania - AGER, vol. 0(6(583)), pages 99-118, June.
    2. Claudio Detotto & Manuela Pulina, 2013. "Does more crime mean fewer jobs and less economic growth?," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 183-207, August.
    3. Lau, Evan & Hamzah, Siti Nur Zahara, 2012. "Crimonometric Analysis: Testing the Deterrence Hypothesis in Sabah," MPRA Paper 39297, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Chor Foon Tang, 2011. "An exploration of dynamic relationship between tourist arrivals, inflation, unemployment and crime rates in Malaysia," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 38(1), pages 50-69, January.

    More about this item


    Income inequality; crime; bounds testing; Malaysia;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - General

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