Correlates of crime

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Causes and correlates of crime)
Jump to: navigation, search

Many different correlates of crime have been proposed with varying degrees of empirical support. The causes of crime is one of the major research areas in criminology. A large number of narrow and broad theories have been proposed for explaining crime. These must then be scrutinized further because correlation does not imply causation.

The Handbook of Crime Correlates (2009) is a systematic review of worldwide empirical studies on crime publicized in the academic literature. The results of a total of 5200 studies are summarized. In order to identify well-established relationships to crime consistency scores were calculated for the factors which many studies have examined. The scoring depends on how consistent a statistically significant relationship was found in the studies. The authors argue that the review summaries most of what is currently known of variables associated with criminality.[1]



Crime is most frequent in second and third decades of life.[1]


Males commit more overall and violent crime. They also commit more property crime except shoplifting, which is about equally distributed between the genders. Males appear to be more likely to recidivate.[1]


Measures related to arousal such as heart rate and skin conductance are low among criminals.[1]

Body type[edit]

Mesomorphic or muscular body type is positively correlated with criminality specifically of the sexual nature.[1]


Testosterone is positively correlated to criminality.[1]

Biochemical markers[edit]

Low monoamine oxidase activity and low 5-HIAA levels are found among criminals.[1]

Race, ethnicity, and immigration[edit]

There is a relationship between race and crime.[1]

Ethnically/racially diverse areas probably have higher crime rates compared to ethnically/racially homogeneous areas.[1]

Most studies on immigrants have found higher rates of crime. However, this varies greatly depending on the country of origin with immigrants from some regions having lower crime rates than the indigenous population.[1]

Early life[edit]


Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with later criminality. Low birth weight and perinatal trauma/birth complications may be more prevalent among criminals.[1][2]


Child maltreatment, low parent-child attachment, marital discord/family discord, alcoholism and drug use in the family, and low parental supervision/monitoring are associated with criminality. Larger family size and later birth order are also associated.[1]


Nocturnal enuresis or bed wetting correlates with criminality.[1]


Bullying is positively related to criminal behavior.[1]


School disciplinary problems, truancy, low grade point average, and dropping out of high school are associated with criminality.[1]

Lead Poisoning[edit]

Childhood lead exposure of a population correlates with criminal activity approximately twenty years later.[3]

Adult behavior[edit]

Alcohol and illegal drug use[edit]

High alcohol use, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism, as well as high illegal drug use and dependence are positively related to criminality in general.[1]


Early age of first intercourse and more sexual partners are associated with criminality.[1]


Few friends, criminal friends, and gang membership correlate positively with criminality.[1]


On the individual level, most recent scientific studies have found a negative correlation between religiosity and criminality. A 2001 meta-analysis by Colin Baier and Bradley Wright found that, in general, "religious beliefs and behaviors exert a moderate deterrent effect on individuals' criminal behavior".[4] An individual with high religious saliency (i.e. with high importance of religion to their life) is less likely to be associated with criminal activities; similarly, an individual who regularly attends religious services or is highly involved in them will be less involved in criminality, with the possible exception of property damage.[5] In addition, meta-analysis research suggests that those who subscribe to more orthodox religious beliefs are less likely to engage in criminal behavior than those who do not.[6] A 1997 study by Brent Benda concluded that, while there were negative correlations between religiosity and crime, religiosity and drug use, and religiosity and alcohol, only the relationship between religiosity and alcohol was statistically significant.[7] Participation in religious activities can be an inhibitor of adult crime,[8] however, studies have shown that more secular nations have lower rates of violent crimes such as murder.[9]

Physical health[edit]

General morbidity[edit]

Criminals probably suffer from more illnesses.[1]


Epilepsy appears to have a positive correlation with criminality.[1]

Accidental injuries[edit]

Criminals are more frequently accidentally injured.[1]

Psychological traits[edit]

Conduct disorder and antisocial personality disorder[edit]

Childhood conduct disorder and adult antisocial personality disorder are associated with one another and criminal behavior.[1][10]

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder[edit]

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder correlates positively with criminality.[1]

Depression and suicide[edit]

Minor depression and probably clinical depression is more likely among offenders. Depression in the family is associated with criminality. Criminals are more likely to be suicidal.[1]


Schizophrenia and criminality appear to be positively correlated.[1][11]

Intelligence quotient and learning disabilities[edit]

There is also a relationship between lower IQ and crime.

The American Psychological Association's 1995 report Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns stated that the correlation between IQ and crime was -0.2. In his book The g Factor (1998), Arthur Jensen cited data which showed that, regardless of race, people with IQs between 70 and 90 have higher crime rates than people with IQs below or above this range, with the peak range being between 80 and 90.

A learning disability is a substantial discrepancy between IQ and academic performance. It has a relationship to criminal behavior. Slow reading development may be particularly relevant.[1]

Personality traits[edit]

Several personality traits are associated with criminality: High impulsivity, high psychoticism, high sensation-seeking, low self control, high aggression in childhood, and low empathy and altruism.[1]

Socioeconomic factors[edit]

Higher total socioeconomic status (usually measured using the three variables income (or wealth), occupational level, and years of education) correlate with less crime. Longer education is associated with less crime. Higher income/wealth have a somewhat inconsistent correlation with less crime with the exception of self-report illegal drug use for which there is no relation. Higher parental socioeconomic status probably has an inverse relationship with crime.[1]

High frequency of changing jobs and high frequency of unemployment for a person correlate with criminality.[1]

Somewhat inconsistent evidence indicates that there is a relationship between low income, percentage under the poverty line, few years of education, and high income inequality in an area and more crime in the area.[1]

The relationship between the state of the economy and crime rates is inconsistent among the studies. The same for differences in unemployment between different regions and crime rates. There is a slight tendency in the majority of the studies for higher unemployment rate to be positively associated with crime rates.[1]

Other geographic factors[edit]

Cities or counties with larger populations have higher crime rates. Poorly maintained neighborhoods correlate with higher crime rates. High residential mobility is associated with a higher crime rate. More taverns and alcohol stores, as well as more gambling and tourist establishments, in an area are positively related to criminality.[1]

There appears to be higher crime rates in the geographic regions of a country that are closer to the equator.[1]

Weather, season and climate[edit]

Crime rates vary with temperature depending on both short-term weather and season. The relationship between the hotter months of summer and a peak in rape and assault seems to be almost universal. For other crimes there are also seasonal or monthly patterns but they are more inconsistent across nations. On the other hand for climate, there is a higher crime rate in the southern US but this largely disappears after non-climatic factors are controlled for.[12]

Victims and fear of crime[edit]

Risk of being a crime victim is highest for teens through mid 30s and lowest for the elderly. Fear of crime shows the opposite pattern. Criminals are more often crime victims. Females fear crimes more than males. Black Americans appear to fear crime more. Black people are more often victims, especially of murder.[1]

Cultural and societal – Specific factors[edit]

Media depiction of violence[edit]

Media violence research examines whether links between consuming media violence and subsequent aggressive and violent behavior exists.

Gun politics[edit]

The effect of gun politics on crime is a controversial research area.


Both legal and illegal drugs are implicated in drug-related crime.

Being an unwanted child[edit]

Children whose parents did not want to have a child are more likely to grow to be delinquents or commit crimes.[2] Such children are also less likely to succeed in school, and are more likely to live in poverty.[2] They also tend to have lower mother-child relationship quality.[13] Children whose births were unintended are likely to be less mentally and physically healthy during childhood.[14]

Biosocial criminology[edit]

Biosocial criminology is an interdisciplinary field that aims to explain crime and antisocial behavior by exploring both biological factors and environmental factors. While contemporary criminology has been dominated by sociological theories, biosocial criminology also recognizes the potential contributions of fields such as genetics, neuropsychology, and evolutionary psychology.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah Lee Ellis; Kevin M. Beaver; John Wright (1 April 2009). Handbook of Crime Correlates. Academic Press. ISBN 9780123736123. 
  2. ^ a b c Monea J, Thomas A (June 2011). "Unintended pregnancy and taxpayer spending". Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 43: 88–93. doi:10.1363/4308811. PMID 21651707. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ BAIER, C. J. (2001). ""If You Love Me, Keep My Commandments": A Meta-Analysis of the Effect of Religion on Crime". Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 38 (1): 3–21. doi:10.1177/0022427801038001001.  edit
  5. ^ Ellis, Beaver & Wright 2009, p. 108.
  6. ^ Ellis, Beaver & Wright 2009, p. 112.
  7. ^ BENDA, B. B. (1997). "An Examination of a Reciprocal Relationship Between Religiosity and Different Forms of Delinquency Within a Theoretical Model". Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 34 (2): 163–186. doi:10.1177/0022427897034002001.  edit
  8. ^ EVANS, T. DAVID (1995). "RELIGION AND CRIME REEXAMINED: THE IMPACT OF RELIGION, SECULAR CONTROLS, AND SOCIAL ECOLOGY ON ADULT CRIMINALITY*". Criminology 33 (2): 195–224. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9125.1995.tb01176.x.  edit
  9. ^ Zuckerman, Phil (March 6, 2009). Written at Claremont, California. Sociology Compass (Pitzer College) .doi:10.1111/j.1751-9020.2009.00247.x Retrieved August 8, 2013
  10. ^ James Q. Wilson; Joan Petersilia (2002). Crime: public policies for crime control. ICS Press. ISBN 9781558155091. 
  11. ^ Fazel, S.; Grann, M. (2006). "The Population Impact of Severe Mental Illness on Violent Crime". American Journal of Psychiatry 163 (8): 1397–1403. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.163.8.1397. PMID 16877653.  edit
  12. ^ J. Mitchell Miller (18 August 2009). 21st Century Criminology: A Reference Handbook. Sage. p. 57. ISBN 9781412960199. 
  13. ^ "Family Planning – Healthy People 2020". Retrieved 2011-08-18. "Which cites:
    • Logan C, Holcombe E, Manlove J, et al. (2007 May [cited 2009 Mar 3]). The consequences of unintended childbearing: A white paper. Washington: Child Trends, Inc. 
    • Cheng D, Schwarz E, Douglas E, et al. (March 2009). "Unintended pregnancy and associated maternal preconception, prenatal and postpartum behaviors". Contraception 79 (3): 194-8. doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2008.09.009. PMID 19185672. 
    • Kost K, Landry D, Darroch J. (Mar–Apr 1998). "Predicting maternal behaviors during pregnancy: Does intention status matter?". Fam Plann Perspectives 30 (2): 79-88. doi:10.2307/2991664. PMID 9561873. 
    • D’Angelo, D, Colley Gilbert B, Rochat R, et al. (Sep–Oct 2004). "Differences between mistimed and unwanted pregnancies among women who have live births.". Perspect Sex Reprod Health 36 (5): 192-7. doi:10.1363/3619204. PMID 15519961. " 
  14. ^ Logan C, Holcombe E, Manlove J, et al. (2007 May [cited 2009 Mar 3]). The consequences of unintended childbearing: A white paper. Washington: Child Trends, Inc. 
  15. ^ Kevin M. Beaver and Anthony Walsh. 2011. Biosocial Criminology. Chapter 1 in The Ashgate Research Companion to Biosocial Theories of Crime. 2011. Ashgate.