Crime and Socio-Economic Context
Revue française de sociologie
FR : Presses de Sciences Po
29 - 48 p.
Social stratification, Delinquency, Crime
Thinking in France on relations between crime rate trend and evolution of socio-economic context over time is underdeveloped. Recent studies in the United Kingdom suggest that the business cycle influences fluctuations in both property offenses and violent crime. Whereas pre-1970 research in the United States only rarely pointed up a direct link between crime rate and unemployment, post-1970 American studies are dominated by demonstrations of a direct correlation between the two. In this article, analysis of trends in unemployment, prices and wages, marriage among men, and schooling leads to an interpretation of delinquency and crime over the long term in which it is affirmed that an increase in opportunity, such as that attested to by increased consumer prices and wages over time, has a more pronounced role in the strong growth period of the cycle and influences property offenses more than violent crime, and that unemployment among young people without educational degrees is a factor working in favor of both theft and violent crime. This phenomenon was partially masked in periods where it was common to remain in the school system, such as early in the last decade of the twentieth century in France. Lastly, the fact that starting in the early 1980s fewer young people settled in couples and, more generally, the tension in relations between the sexes may also have worked to favor delinquency.