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Crime and local inequality in South Africa


  • Demombynes, Gabriel
  • Ozler, Berk


The authors examine the effects of local inequality on property and violent crime in South Africa. Their findings are consistent with economic theories relating inequality to property crime, and also with sociological theories that imply that inequality leads to crime in general. Burglary rates are 20-30 percent higher in police station jurisdictions that are the wealthiest among their neighbors, suggesting that criminals travel to neighborhoods where the expected returns from burglary are highest. The authors do not find evidence that inequality between racial groups fosters interpersonal conflict at the local level.

Suggested Citation

  • Demombynes, Gabriel & Ozler, Berk, 2002. "Crime and local inequality in South Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2925, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2925

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & José A. Scheinkman, 1996. "Crime and Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 507-548.
    2. Demombynes, Gabriel & Elbers, Chris & Lanjouw, Jenny & Lanjouw, Peter & Mistiaen, Johan & Ozler, Berk, 2002. "Producing an Improved Geographic Profile of Poverty: Methodology and Evidence from Three Developing Countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 039, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
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    6. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman, 2002. "What causes violent crime?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(7), pages 1323-1357, July.
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    8. Bourguignon Francois, 2009. "Crime as a Social Cost of Poverty and Inequality: A Review Focusing on Developing countries," REVISTA DESARROLLO Y SOCIEDAD, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE, September.
    9. Bruce Weinberg & Eric Gould & David Mustard, 1998. "Crime Rates and Local Labor Market Opportunities in the United States: 1979-1995," Working Papers 98-11, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
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    11. 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.
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    13. Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman & Menendez, Ana Maria, 2002. "Violent Crime: Does Social Capital Matter?," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(3), pages 509-539, April.
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    17. Chiu, W. Henry & Madden, Paul, 1998. "Burglary and income inequality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 123-141, July.
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    More about this item


    Corruption&Anitcorruption Law; Public Health Promotion; Education and Society; Judicial System Reform; Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Governance Indicators; Judicial System Reform; Corruption&Anitcorruption Law; Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Social Conflict and Violence;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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