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Power And Inequality: Role Of Inequality In Increasing The Crime Rate

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The increasing crime rate all across the world is a great concern for the legal authorities and also the researchers have identified numerous factors behind the increased crime rate. The major dimensions that are considered the real causes behind an increased crime rate includes poverty and inequality. But recently the numerous research studies have identified that inequality is considered to be the main driving factor behind increasing crime rate. This essay also argues that inequality contributes to crime rate as compared to poverty.

It is strongly argued that inequality rather than poverty is the main driver of crime all across the world, and the two forms of inequality includes the social inequality and the economic inequality. For this reason it is important to understand the concept of crime, which states that it is an act of conditional violation, law breaking in a straight forward sense and also these activities include the conditional violation of the criminal law which is agreed upon within the given jurisdiction (Stewart et al., 2002). Similarly by understanding the concept of poverty, the researchers have identified that poverty can be defined as the condition, in which the individuals get short of the resources and they do not have sufficing resources to meet their personal needs. Most of the research studies have conducted an extensive research to define a relationship between poverty and crime. But on the other hand, the other research studies have also identified that there is no link between the poverty rate and crime rate. These research studies are based on the surveys conducted from different imprisoned women, and they have revealed that although they faced poverty throughout their lives but they committed crime because of powerlessness and crime. And the analysis of these research findings shows that they committed crime not because of poverty but they did it as they have experienced violence at their homes, or they consumed drugs for tackling their issues and later got involved in the drug related crimes.

In addition, it has been presented in the different research studies that there is a direct and strong link between income inequality and an increasing rate of crime. The research studies have also discussed that income inequality is a structural violence which is triggered among individuals because of a huge gap in their income level. Also, by analyzing this fact from a socio-psychological point of view, it is considered that income inequality results in the hierarchical societies and the people living in these societies are highly concerned about the attainment of status and it ultimately becomes the goal of their lives (Hipp, 2007). With an increase in the status competition, the gap in the income of individuals make it difficult for them to obtain social status and success including good jobs, nice houses and good education. And it increases frustration of individuals, and the respond to this frustration with violence, and it fuels the criminal acts in the society. The social sciences researchers have also claimed that income inequalities results in the increased crime rate because people who are unable to achieve social status and they are deprived of obtaining resources, considers the violence and crime as a most convenient route to achieve social status and resources. Also the economic inequality is strongly linked with the increased rate of crime and violence.

Moreover, it is also argued that inequality increases the crime rate due to the presence of certain mechanisms, and these may include escalating social tensions to increasing economic returns to criminal activity. A report published by the United Nations Development Programmed, mentioned that the lack of capacity of governments in terms of institutions, police forces and judicial systems as well as a significant increase in the ratio of single household parents also increases the probability and chances of crime in the countries. The institutions are not adequate enough to meet the security challenges and to control the crimes like drug trafficking, human trafficking, theft, robberies etc (Wilkinson, 2002). Also the different researchers have identified that if the inequality has not declined it will increase the homicide rates in the next few years. Also the analysts have stated that if the society is divided between losers and winners, some of these losers may turned into the homicides who get involved in numerous crimes just for the sake of filling income gap and inequality, they are facing while living in the society. Also the greater income gaps result in the property crimes and the poor have greater incentives in stealing from the rich, as by doing so they can cover the income gaps and also they can achieve the social status which they actually desired for. These findings provide a clear picture of the link between income inequality and increasing crime rate. This relationship has causal effects although the other determinants of crime are been controlled, but if income inequality exists, it results in the high level of implications for the underclass to act violently and this class is forced to compete with the upper class for gaining higher income and achieve high level of status. The most common phenomena is that the high levels of inequality gives greater incentives for the increased rate of crimes, and if the crime rates are less severe the crime rates would also fall. By considering the cases of rich countries, such as United States, which has a high level of income inequality, it can be seen that such an inequality would result in the increased crime rates in the long run (Lofstrom and Raphael, 2016). For this reason, the international monetary fund, OECD and other organizations are highly concerned about this issue and they have warned that the accelerating inequality rates would harm the societies regardless of economic conditions. Also many Americans view inequality as an outcome of the consequences when the abilities and talents are not distributed evenly throughout the society. The rich are becoming rich because they work smarter, harder and highly productive.

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The notion that inequality results in increased crime rate as compared to poverty is also supported by the analytical framework presented by Gary Becker who has stated that the crime rates are greatly dependent on the penalties and risks associated with the apprehension linked with the incentives and rewards linked with the crimes (Fajnzylber et al., 2002). The relationship between inequality and increased crime rate is being observed by the sociological theories and it is also described that the people living in lower class areas are said to have higher official crime rates because of the consistent levels of inequality. Moreover this finding is also analyzed by applying the theory of relative deprivation, in which it is mentioned that the social tension is breed by inequality because the people who are less well off, feel dispossessed when they are compared with the upper class or the wealthier people. This feeling of unfairness and being disadvantaged leads the poor to look for satisfaction and compensation by all means and it includes committing crimes against both the rich and the poor. On the other hand, it is also important to understand that most of the crimes inflicted by poor on poor weakens the relative deprivation theory as it does not validate the relationship between inequality and crime. It shows that the characteristics of the victims are not dependent on their relative wealth but also on the inequalities in security services that are provided to them. The observation of the research studies shows that crime rate is highly prevalent in the poor communities, and social classes because of inequality in the police services and poor people do not afford the high levels of security which is required to provide them protection against different crimes. Besides income inequality, the social inequality is also considered one of the greatest reasons behind increasing rate of crimes. The social inequality includes the discrimination based on the racial and ethnic issues. The social inequality results in the increased discrimination and these people get engaged themselves in criminal activities as they feel disadvantaged and they feel that they are deprived of their basic rights. When they feel disadvantaged, they seek compensation and satisfaction by involving in any means so that they can satisfy their ethnic and racial satisfaction, and also by doing so they satisfy their social status (Ingraham, 2018). These individuals also commit themselves in victimizing the rich and poor.

The researchers have also identified that inequality does not only include income inequality and this form of inequality also includes inequality on the basis of age, color, religion, gender and race. Also these researchers have identified that social injustice is a major contributing factor behind the increased crime rate. According to a research conducted by the Human Rights Watch, it can be stated that the ethnic minorities are highly disproportionate and they are discriminated and represented in the US criminal justice system. These ethnic minorities also experience legal discrimination and stigma because of the inequality and they get themselves involved in the criminal activities to get justice and obtain equal status and respect in the society. Although poverty is the main reason behind an increased rate of crime and the research studies have also described that as the youth does not have equal opportunities for getting education, they involve themselves in the criminal activities. If the unemployment rate is reduced, it also decreases the crime rate. And also it has been mentioned in the research studies that most of the highly developed and economic stable countries also face a higher crime rate as the people want to satisfy their social needs and also they like to get a higher social recognition, and by committing crimes they find means to satisfy their needs (Vauclair and Bratanova, 2017). Moreover the further cause of increasing crime rate is the dysfunctional family setup and lifestyle and it is seen that if a child is raised in a dysfunctional family setup, it leads him to the criminal life in his future. Moreover family violence and several other issues also contribute to the increased crime rate and it shows that people who are abused and neglected by their families, get easily get attracted to the crimes. And the characteristics like poor supervision of parents also leads to the increased criminal activities of the children. Hence all these research studies shows that inequality is greatly linked to the criminal activities and increased crime rates, though it’s an economic or social inequality. These forms of inequality are the major contributor of crime and it is a highly impacting factor for increased crime rate as compared to the poverty.

In addition the several research studies have also stated that there is a need of applying and bringing several solutions to resolve these issues where the contributing factors towards poverty can be eliminated and these issues can be resolved. It is important for the state and federal government to resolve these issues because the increasing crime rate has a destructive impact on the overall economic development and also these issues raise a high level of insecurity and violence in the societies (Webster and Kingston, 2014). The most important solution is to eradicate inequality in all its forms so that the people would have an equal level of income and social status which would help them to avoid being indulging in the criminal activities. Moreover the government institutes should focus on increasing the economic stability of the countries, as a result of which there are equal employment opportunities and also the people would raise their social status equally. In short there is a need of adequate steps for which these issues can be resolved and also the crime rate can be controlled.

To conclude it can be stated that inequality plays a major role in increasing the crime rate as compared to poverty and it is not necessarily the income inequality but also it is the social inequality. When the individuals are deprived of their basic rights and also these individuals are placed at the lowest levels of social hierarchy, they get attracted to the increased crimes, for fulfilling their desires and needs and also they find every mean to earn higher income and to acknowledge their social presence.


  1. FAJNZYLBER, P., LEDERMAN, D. & LOAYZA, N. 2002. Inequality and violent crime. The journal of Law and Economics, 45, 1-39.
  2. HIPP, J. R. 2007. Income inequality, race, and place: Does the distribution of race and class within neighborhoods affect crime rates? Criminology, 45, 665-697.
  3. INGRAHAM, C. 2018. How rising inequality hurts everyone, even the rich [Online]. Available: [Accessed].
  4. LOFSTROM, M. & RAPHAEL, S. 2016. Crime, the criminal justice system, and socioeconomic inequality. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 30, 103-26.
  5. STEWART, F., HOLDSTOCK, D. & JARQUIN, A. 2002. Root causes of violent conflict in developing countriesCommentary: Conflict—from causes to prevention? bmj, 324, 342-345.
  6. VAUCLAIR, C.-M. & BRATANOVA, B. 2017. Income inequality and fear of crime across the European region. European journal of criminology, 14, 221-241.
  7. WEBSTER, C. & KINGSTON, S. 2014. Anti-poverty strategies for the UK: poverty and crime review.
  8. WILKINSON, R. G. 2002. Unhealthy societies: the afflictions of inequality, Routledge.

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