Less Employment, More Crime

Here’s some very interesting research into crime levels from Enda Hargaden, University of Michigan


He found crime levels rose and fell in tandem with employment in any given area. The relationship was particularly strong for theft and burglary but less so for violent crime. The number of sex offences in a particular location was also strongly related to the unemployment level.
Hargaden was even able to quantify the relationship and found that an increase of 1,000 in the numbers on the dole in a particular county or Garda district led to an extra 50 break-ins and thefts. The relationship held true across the country, according to Hargaden, who looked at regional employment data and corresponding regional crime data.


The fact that crime is fundamentally an economic problem is of little comfort to the Corcorans or anyone else living in a rural area that has been the subject of crime. Likewise no amount of economic growth will guarantee everyone is diverted from a life of crime. There are no absolutes and family circumstances, background and education are among other contributory factors.
Any honest conversation about reducing crime, in rural Ireland or anywhere else, has to involve employment, or, as Hargaden puts it: “The overall picture suggests that job creation generates the positive externality of lower crime.” He may not quite have Blair’s way with words but the message is clear and those who espouse it should not be shouted down or branded as soft.
It should also serve as a shot across the bow of those members of the “law and order” brigade who peddle simplistic claims that tougher sentencing laws and reopening Garda stations will solve the problem.