A quantitative analysis of crime and the labour market
A large number of criminological theories predict a link between crime and the labour market. This thesis takes predictions from those theories and tests them empirically. Using a large range of data and quantitative techniques, this work considers which factors are most associated with crime, while at the same time addressing issues of methodology and interpretation. The thesis consists of seven Chapters. The first introduces the issues surrounding crime and the labour market, describes the theories which inform the research and discuss the existing empirical work in the area. Sections also describe the data and methodological debates of concern in this field. The empirical analysis, which forms the body of the thesis, follows from this introduction in five inter-related Chapters. The first two deal with establishing which variables are most associated with crime, which data are most useful and which methodological techniques are most appropriate. They cover cross-sectional analysis, as well as area level longitudinal data at police force area level and Local Authority level over time. The results point to clear methodological advantages of using area level data and find the most robust correlate of crime to be low wages. The following Chapter uses these findings to frame an analysis of police force area level data in England and Wales. It examines the effect on crime of a substantial pay increase awarded to low wage workers with the introduction of the National Minimum Wage into the UK labour market in April 1999. By comparing crime rates in areas before and after the introduction of the Minimum Wage, it finds that crime fell (in relative terms) in areas where the introduction of the Minimum Wage had the greatest impact. Having consistently found the labour market, and in particular low wages, to be linked to crime, the final two empirical Chapters address issues of gender and age, two of the most important demographic determinants of crime. The first examines the effect of increasing female labour force participation on crime, and finds that rising female employment is positively associated with crimes done by males. Results indicate that this is because increasing female labour supply forces male wages down. Particularly affected are the wages of the low skilled males who are already low paid and are more likely to be on the margins of crime. The second of these Chapters focuses on youth crime and finds that, although labour market variables matter, other variables such as education, truancy and parental involvement with the police matter more. The final Chapter draws the material together, offers concluding comments, places the findings within a policy context and offers suggestions for future research.