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Economics and Youth ViolenceCrime, Disadvantage, and Community$
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Richard Rosenfeld, Mark Edberg, Xiangming Fang, and Curtis S. Florence

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814789308

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814789308.001.0001

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Are the Criminogenic Consequences of Economic Downturns Conditional?

Are the Criminogenic Consequences of Economic Downturns Conditional?

Assessing Potential Moderators of the Link between Adverse Economic Conditions and Crime Rates

(p.53) 3 Are the Criminogenic Consequences of Economic Downturns Conditional?
Economics and Youth Violence

Eric P. Baumer

Richard Rosenfeld

Kevin T. Wolff

NYU Press

This chapter shows how levels of inflation moderate the impact of unemployment on property crime and age-specific homicide rates for a sample of 82 American cities over the period between 1980 and 2009. The effect of unemployment on property crime rates and homicide is stronger during periods of high inflation; in fact, no relationship exists between unemployment and these crimes during periods of below-average inflation rates. And contrary to expectations, this study finds no evidence that the level of unemployment insurance benefits or a measure of drug market activity moderates the effect of economic adversity on crime rates. Thus it is recommended that future research on the relationship between macroeconomic conditions and crime rates move beyond simplistic assessments of “main effects” and consider the role of inflation and other conditions in moderating the relationship between crime rates and economic conditions such as unemployment and wages.

Keywords:   inflation, unemployment, crime rates, property crime, homicide, macroeconomic conditions

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