This project was conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and
Crime (UNODC).The aims of the project were twofold:
- To identify and raise awareness at global, regional and national level
of the possible effects of economic stress on crime; and
- To work towards a predictive capacity for such effects at country
The report described analysis undertaken on high frequency (monthly)
police data for intentional homicide, robbery and motor vehicle theft,
in 15 countries - Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador,
Italy, Jamaica, Latvia, Mauritius, Mexico, Philippines, Poland,
Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay - and 4 cities, Buenos Aires,
Montevideo, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro.
- Whether in times of economic crisis or non-crisis, economic factors
may play an important role in the evolution of crime trends. Out of
fifteen countries examined in total, a statistical model identified an
economic predictor for at least one crime type in twelve countries,
suggesting some overall association between economic changes and crime
in these countries.
- Of the fifteen countries included in the analysis, visualization of
data suggests that eleven countries showed significant changes in
economic indictors during the period 2008/2009 that may tentatively be
termed economic 'crisis'. Both visual inspection of data series and
statistical modelling suggest that in eight of these eleven 'crisis'
countries, changes in economic factors were associated with changes in
crime, leading to identifiable increases in at least one crime type
during the period of crisis.
- Violent property crime types such as robbery appeared most affected
during times of crisis, with up to two-fold increases in some contexts
during a period of economic stress. However, in some contexts,
increases in homicide and motor vehicle theft were also observed. In
no case where it was difficult to discern an increase in crime in
response to crime was any decrease in crime observed. The available
data do not therefore support a hypothesis that economic crisis can
lead to crime downturns.
- Where an association between one or more economic variables is
identified by statistical modelling, the model frequently indicates a
lag time between changes in the economic variable and resultant impact
on crime levels. The average lag time in the contexts examined was
around four and half months.
- Statistical modelling at the national and city level proved useful for
the generation of forecasts in crime trends up to around 3 months in
advance, using information from the previous crime trend and changes
in economic variables. The accuracy of forecasts in many cases was
suitable for use in practice.
Malby, S.; Davis, P. Monitoring the impact of economic crisis on crime. Global Pulse, New York, USA (2011) 70 pp.
Monitoring the impact of economic crisis on crime.