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Personal indebtedness, community characteristics and theft crimes

  • McIntyre Stuart G

    ()

    (Department of Econimics, University of Strathclyde)

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://www.strath.ac.uk/media/departments/economics/researchdiscussionpapers/2013/13-20FINAL.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1320.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published
Handle: RePEc:str:wpaper:1320
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  1. J. Barkley Rosser, 2009. "Introduction," Chapters, in: Handbook of Research on Complexity, chapter 1 Edward Elgar.
  2. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 305-46, April.
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  12. McIntyre, Stuart G. & Lacombe, Donald J., 2012. "Personal Indebtedness, Spatial Effects and Crime," SIRE Discussion Papers 2012-83, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  13. 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.
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  18. Stuart McIntyre & Donald Lacombe, 2012. "Personal Indebtedness, Spatial Effects and Crime," Working Papers 1209, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
  19. 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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