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Does economic inequality cause crime?

Economic inequality is correlated with crime rates, but whether the link is causal is a matter of ongoing debate.

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Experts and Influencers

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Experts In Economics

Norman Loayza    Economist, World Bank
Daniel Lederman    Economist, World Bank
Pablo Fajnzylber    Economics Professor
Mostly Agree
In this article we take an empirical cross-country perspective to investigate the robustness and causality of the link between income inequality and crime rates. ... We find that crime rates and inequality are positively correlated (within each country and, particularly, between countries), and it appears that this correlation reflects causation from inequality to crime rates, even controlling for other crime determinants.
01 Aug 2001    Source

Experts In Entertainment

Peter Joseph    Movie Producer
Virtually all forms of crime are a consequence of the monetary system either directly or by neurosis inflicted through financial deprivation. Therefore, laws themselves could eventually become extinct.
02 Oct 2008    Source

Experts In Economics

Eric Neumayer    Economics Professor
Mostly Disagree
This article argues that the link between income inequality and violent property crime might be spurious, complementing a similar argument [...] by the author on the determinants of homicide. ... [The link] might be spurious [because] income inequality is likely to be strongly correlated with country-specific fixed effects such as cultural differences. A high degree of inequality might be socially undesirable for any number of reasons, but that it causes violent crime is far from proven.
01 Aug 2004    Source


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1 Point      the27th      03 Jul 2010      Stance on Question: Mostly Disagree
People cause their own actions.
Inequality correlates with crime. Poverty very plausibly makes crime easier and other ways of making money harder. And childhood poverty harms brain development, in particular decision-making. But I do insist on being persnickety about this: short of very serious brain damage, one's actions are chosen, so no, environmental factors do not cause crime.

0 Points      CipherGott      05 Feb 2012      General Comment
Hi. Studying sociologist here. Environment is a determining factor on human behavior. One's actions are determined based on what is learned from one's environment. Neural events that one is unconscous of occur before every action, before every decision. So, if one is the product of an environment that influence criminal behavior, then one will have a high propensity for criminal behavior. However, criminal behavior is still only a symptom of a larger social problem.

1 Point      Andy Brooks      10 Sep 2010      Stance on Question: Agree
Of course economic inequality causes crime. People's incomes are affected; families cannot afford health care, education, even the ability to live effectively. This very often forces one's actions to resort to crime in order to survive within the environment they are placed in, i.e. thefts, muggings, etc.

The idea that environmental factors do not influence crime is incomprehendable.

0 Points      Keller Scholl      27 May 2011      Stance on Question: Agree
Both of you! On a societal level, environmental conditions lead to crime. on an individual level, nothing controls your decisions. Stop being foolish and arguing over definitions, and get back to talking about important questions.