Is there a relationship between our economy and crime?

South Africans have watched our economy drop over the past few years; however specifically in the last 3 months we have seen the lowest fall yet struggling to settle our currency below the R16 to the dollar mark.

We have also noticed an increase in contact and property related crime, or even criminal movements. This could be that we are more aware of our surroundings due to social media and WhatsApp groups, although most South Africans have been or are related to a victim of crime at some point in their lives.

This topic has two different trains of thought. The first comes from the criminologist, and the second from the economist:

1. The criminologist: A low economy = an increase in crime
Tough economic times make more people willing to commit crimes. Bad economies lead to more property crimes and robberies as criminals steal coveted items they can’t otherwise afford.
The economic anxiety of bad times leads to an increase in domestic violence as well as an increase in substance abuse which causes an increase in violence in general.
Crminologists argue the logic that desperate people will do anything to survive. The tighter the economy squeezes them, the more they are likely to commit crime.


2. The economist: A good economy – an increase in crime
There are more expensive and flashy items to steal. Fancy cars (theft of motor vehicle), flat screen TV’s (burglaries), expensive jewelry and cellphones (common robberies), are all very attractive to a criminal in the market. Along with a strong economy, comes the demand for alcohol and drugs with also has a knock-on effect to domestic violence and crime.
The economist argues that with a strong economy, people succumb to temptation.
So we have two view-points both driven by two evils: desperation and temptation.
Statistics show that there is no real correlation between economy and crime, however that we should rather say: crime is periodic.  Each geographical area experiences a wave of crime which could last a week, a month or a few months, and then dissepate. So how do we know the period we are in? Check in on your social media platforms. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Be conscious of the fact that crime exists!

Crime might not be dependant on the economy; but it can be expected that South Africa is going to have a tough 2016, and it is up to us to keep positive and keep working together.