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Investigating the Impact of Poverty on Violent Crime - Coursework Example

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Investigating the impact of poverty on violent crime Research question The research question this work intends to explore is whether poverty causes violent crime and if so, then to what extent. The relationship between general crime and poverty is a contended one…
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Investigating the Impact of Poverty on Violent Crime

Download file to see previous pages... However, even if it is admitted that poverty does engender crimes such as petty thievery or other non-violent crimes, what the impact is of poverty on violent crimes does constitute an open question and this is exactly what the present endeavour aims to investigate. Theory and hypothesis The standard socio-economic argument for criminal behaviour posits that crimes are committed only if the potential benefit outweighs the potential cost. While the potential benefit includes successful evasion of authorities so that there is an increase in the individual’s lifetime income, the potential cost includes getting caught and convicted. If an individual is caught and convicted and sentenced to a jail term, he loses his potential earnings for the duration of the jail term that he would have otherwise earned. The jail term however ensures three square meals a day and a shelter, however small. Therefore, it is easy to see that poorer an individual, the lesser is the potential cost of the crime if he is caught and convicted. Therefore the poorer among the population have a stronger economic incentive to commit a crime. Additionally, if poverty is also coupled with a lack of education which in turn lowers the individual’s potential legal lifetime income, it is likely that he will have relatively stronger incentives to commit to criminal behaviour. The particular concern of this paper is the impact poverty has on violent crimes. We intend to look at whether incentives to commit crimes that are generated because of hailing from backgrounds of poverty can explain the incidences of violent crimes as well. The central idea is that poverty reduces the potential cost of being convicted and sentenced relative to the potential benefit of the crime to the individual and therefore increases the incentive for all types of crime. If this is true, poverty should increase the incidence of violent crime as well. Our hypothesis therefore is that increase in poverty would lead to increase in rate of violent crimes as well. Data In this section we shall briefly comment on the source of the data and present a table to convey the nature of the variables in the dataset chosen. A state-wise cross section dataset from the US for the year 2005 is used for the purpose of the study. The source of the data is the statistical abstract of the united states, 2005 and is available from the webpage for the textbook “Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences,4th Edition” by Agresti and Finlay (2008)1. Table 1 presents and index including details about the variables used. Table 1: Index of variables used and codes Variable Code Details Violent Crime Rate VI Outcome Variable, measures the number of violent crimes per 100,000 population Metropolitan population ME Control Variable, measures the percentage of Population in Metropolitan areas White population density WH Control Variable, measures the percentage of whites in population Education HS Control Variable, measures the percentage of population that are high school graduates Poverty PO Explanatory Variable, measures the percentage of population with incomes below the poverty level Method This section will present the methodological design that is going to utilise the aforementioned data set to explore our research question and test the hypothesis that poverty positively affects violent crime. The basic methodology that we intend to use is that of a linear least ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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