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Does Poverty Cause Crime

Personal development and Academic Skills | Poverty and Crime | Does poverty foster crime? | | SHI Hanwei | 28 September 2012 | Introduction: There has been an ongoing discussion over the relationship between poverty and crime. Some of the researches have concluded that poverty does not increase the crime rate, because in some of the most undeveloped countries where people have low standard of living and some even struggle to survive, the crime rate was proven to be low (Christine 2005). However, in contrast, some scholars have developed a direct relationship between poverty and crime. The researchers indicated that since people who live in poverty are already having a bad life and the benefit of committing a crime is greater than the cost of committing it and ultimately, people who live in poverty is more likely to commit a crime (Niskanen 1996). This essay will examine both perspectives over the relationship between poverty and crime and subjectively suggest possible causes of crime rate. However, since only secondary data are gathered, there might not be sufficient information to present the real issue. Contents of Discussion: In order to prove the direct relationship between poverty and crime, it is crucial to understand the direct influences of poverty and then the potential threats it might oppose to the society. Poverty is defined as the state of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of poor (Dictionary.com 2012). The money is the key part of the definition. Peoples wealth is judged based on the money they have on hand and their purchase power. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that while people with lower income are having difficult times in their life and when the benefit of committing a crime will give them greater benefit, they are willing to do it. However, the question lies in how countries measure poverty. The level of poverty can be different among countries. For example, U.S. census has indicated that, U.S. households is generally make up with parents and two kids, and they are considered to be poverty families when the household income is less than $25,000 (United State Census Bureau 2012). In contrast, poverty is measured different in other countries. For example, imaging families in developing countries with household income of USD $25,000, they are definitely considered as part of the wealthy families. If a family is considered poor in U.S.

becomes rich in another country, there is not direct relationship between poverty and crime, because there is no standard measurement of poor in global accepted term. In other words, due to the different definition of poverty will change peoples expectation over life. As shown previously, the poor U.S. family might be expecting a vehicle and a large house while making stable income in order for them to consider themselves as regular families. While in other developing country, the expectation over life might be simple as obtaining food and shelter. The difference in definition of poverty influences peoples expectation which ultimately changes the benefit people are seeking. It is clueless to state that people are more likely to commit crime due to the benefits they are getting. For example, compare a poverty family member who conducted a crime over stealing car key; because he is seeking the benefit of having a car versus a person who conducted rubbery because he is hungry, the benefit seeking is totally different. However the reason of conducting the crime is different (want versus need). Ultimately, it is the reason of conducting a crime that matters instead of judging crime rate over a persons social status. Therefore, the difference in between measurement of poverty makes it hard to prove that poverty produces higher level of crime rate. On the other hand, poverty does produce poorer level of education level which results in lower awareness of laws and regulations. In almost every country, the government will have to spend large amount of money on its educational institution. The goal of developing a higher level education is to educate people and to foster greater pace of development. However, it is impossible in reality for governments to take care their every citizen for their education. The government is financial incapable of providing this kind of service, especially in large population countries such as China. Thus, people who live in poverty find it challenging to pay for the higher tuition fee. There has been a theory suggesting that, people who are rich will continuously be rich, due to their higher level of education, greater material surroundings and better network and resources. In contrast, people who are poor will continually be poor because they are unable to afford the high tuition fee and therefore, their life can be hardly changed, this is referred to as the poverty trap (The economist 2011). The theory has presented an important aspect of education education produces better living condition. In developed countries such as Canada, the government provides free tuition till high school. However, in developing countries such as China, families have to afford the high tuition fee after primary school. While poverty families are considering as people with less money, they cannot afford the high tuition fee. Ultimately, with lack of higher level of education, they are more likely to conduct crimes because they lack of understanding over laws. It was further proven by the research conducted by the Canadian government. The research has shown that seventy percent of the people who entered prison have dropped out or have never entered high school (Thestar.com 2012). Furthermore, the research further indicated that people who entered the prison has either substance-abuse problem or have difficulties in obtaining jobs. Additionally, people who have committed crimes are below poverty lines. The research has provided greater insights to the study. Educational background is important factor influencing crime rate, which has direct relationship with poverty. Furthermore, while economic condition does influence the crime rate, but the increase in crime is dependent not solely on economic condition, but on the level of economic condition. As stated in the research, people who have committed crime are below poverty lines. It is further evidenced by their

difficulties in obtaining jobs, which affects their ability to obtain shelter and goods. Other researchers have also proven the point by stating that economic power has influences over crime rate, but it is hard to link crime rate to poverty, because there are other people who live above poverty bust still commits crime (Howsen & Jarrell1987). Therefore, poverty has influence over crime rate, but the level of influences is dependent on poverty members level of life difficulty. Conclusion: While it is evidenced that poverty has influence over crime rates, but the relationship between the two subjects is weak. Poverty does influence crime rate due to the poverty members inability to obtain higher level of education which results in lacking of lawful knowledge. However, the increase in crime rate should not be attributed to poverty, but deep poverty. Deep poverty is referring to people who are struggling to survive. In other words, without committing crimes, it is threatening their lives. Therefore, the increase in crime is affected by multiple issues such as ones mental state, educational background, financial power, personal beliefs, culture etc. It is the governments job to promote and provide educations over laws. Furthermore, governments should establish international measurement scales over poverty people. Only people who are struggling to live should be included in such area, and special help should be granted. It is important for government to realize that, there is no relationship between poverty and crime rate, but there is a heavy relationship between people who live below poverty and crime rate. After all, as indicated by one of the scholars, it is the governments responsibility to improve poverty within the country and it does not matter if poverty causes crime, because it is the governments job to help poverty and to improve the current situation. (Tadros 2009). References: Christine, I. E. (2005). Under siege: Poverty and crime in a public housing community. Contemporary Sociology, 34(3), 245-246. Dictionary.com (2012), Poverty, Viewed: 25 Sept 2012, Retrieved from: <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/poverty> Howsen, R. M., & Jarrell, S. B. (1987). Some determinants of property crime: Economic factors influence criminal behavior but cannot completely explain the syndrome. The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 46(4), 445-445 Niskanen, W. A. (1996). Welfare and the culture of poverty. Cato Journal, 16(1), 1-15. Thestar.com (2012), Tough on poverty, tough on crime, Viewed: 21 Sept 2012, Retrieved from: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/941753--tough-on-poverty-tough-oncrime The Economist (2011). International: The economics of violence; conflict and theory, The Economist Intelligence Unit, 8729(399), p. 45

United State Census Bureau, (2012), How the Census Bureau Measures Poverty, Viewed: 23 Sept 2012, Retrieved from: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/overview/measure.html