The unequal crime drop: Changes over time in the distribution of crime among individuals from different socioeconomic backgrounds
2016 (English)In: European Journal of Criminology, ISSN 1477-3708, E-ISSN 1741-2609Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Since the 1990s, many countries, including Sweden, have seen declining crime levels. In this article, we study whether this general trend is concealing differences between different social groups. In contrast to the few studies that have to date examined the issue of inequality in the crime drop, we focus on the social background of offenders rather than crime victims. We analyse register data covering three entire Swedish birth cohorts, in which convictions data have been linked to data on parental incomes. In this way, we are able to examine changes over time in the distribution of crime among individuals from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Our results show that crime trends differ by socioeconomic background: decreases in crime (theft offences) are greater among the more affluent, and increases (violent crime) are primarily located among the lower levels of the income distribution. This produces an increasing inequality in the conviction risk, primarily among men. Different mechanisms that can contribute to an understanding of why crime has become increasingly concentrated among less affluent social groups are discussed.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Convictions data, crime trend, inequality, Sweden
Research subject Criminology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-137315DOI: 10.1177/1477370816682979OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-137315DiVA: diva2:1061788
FunderSwedish Research Council, 2015-01201