When the economy isn’t at its highest levels, more people are out of work, financial hardships are increasing, and more spare time is readily available, one would assume that crime rates would increase, and vice versa; when the economy is flourishing, crime would go down. While it would make sense to link a time of poor economic growth and benefit to an increase in crime, despite what we’d consider to be common sense, a solid link may not exist between the two. Simply put, many other factors come into play when determining what causes crime rates to increase and decrease at any given time. What many fail to realize is that in most cases, a true causal relationship simply does not exist.
While the economy may play a role in how crime-filled society is or isn’t, history has shown no true pattern. In the early 1990s crime decreased sharply; there was a 40% drop in homicide rates and all other crime rates in other areas too decreased. The same can be said for today’s crime rates. Despite a fluctuating economic situation that frequently threatens to take a turn for the worse, in 2010, violent crime dropped 5.5% when compared to 2009 statistics. There was also a decline in property crime – a 2.85% drop.
However, consider this: during the 1960s, another time of economic growth and success, crime rates grew immensely. So how can two periods of high economic achievement experience such drastic differences in crime rates? The reality is that other factors play a large role in determining annual crime rates. Societal ideals, the leniency of the justice system, and even the advancements within the police forces all impact the crime rate of a nation as well as that of a city.
Crime In Corpus Christi – An Average American City
Take for instance Corpus Christi, Texas, a city of 305,215 residents per the 2010 U.S. Census. When asked what his city’s recent experience has been, Dr. Don Lowrance, a dentist practicing in Corpus Christi, commented on local crime rates. “Overall crime rate and statistics are down, but with a stagnant economy and high unemployment it is bound to go up, but so far it has not been increasing in my area.”
It’s important to note that during a time of a poor economy, society as a whole generally believes that crime rates will go up. With this in mind, most people make the extra effort to better protect themselves and their possessions which may drive crime rates down.
“I keep my curtains closed so passersby do not see computer equipment or electronics that are easy to pawn. We have a camera system in the office that scared burglars off 6 years ago when they broke a window and got in. The alarm was going off but what really shook them was the cameras,” explained Dr. Lowrance.
When studying crime rates, it’s important to keep an open mind and to be willing to step away from the assumption of any causal relationships. Since a variety of factors play a role in crime rates, it isn’t as simple to say that a poor economy means more criminals. A time of a poor economy with a growing and advancing police force and a justice system that imposes heavier punishment for crimes may not experience the expected crime increase.
Ashley Page writes for Off-Topic Media. Dr. Don Lowrance is a general dentist who practices in Corpus Christi and San Antonio, treating primarily TMJ and sleep apnea. He can be contacted at:
Don H. Lowrance, DDS
4707 Everhart Road #101
Corpus Christi, TX 78411