Academics Tackle the Correlation Between Crime and Wages

New Jersey recently raised its minimum wage, and this is spurring conversation regarding the link between crime and earnings. Academics are very interested in this issue, as research has suggested very conflicting findings regarding the correlation between wages and criminal activity. A new study recently took on this matter, but unfortunately, questions remain.

An analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and another scholar - both University of Cincinnati doctoral candidates - assert that there is no link between crime and the minimum wage. They argue that the connection between poverty and crime is "so tenuous that any assertions about the effect of wage hikes on reducing crimes among the working poor are inappropriate."

In the study, the scholars examined 18 states that raised the minimum wage. Specifically, the states raised their minimum pay above the federal level at some point between the years 1977 and 2012. In this evaluation, researchers compared wages to crime rates during this same period. The study suggests that prior to 1993, there was a "lockstep increase" of both crime and the minimum wage. Yet, from 1994 on, the minimum wage rose while crime rates dropped.

The scholars associated with this study attribute crime to other factors, including specific personality traits (for example, impulsivity), thinking errors and bad company. Nevertheless, the recent findings are just one piece of the puzzle. Several other studies (new and old) have linked economic issues to crime.

For example, there are recent findings that suggest that raising the wage floor has reduced violent crime. Additionally, long-standing research from sociologist Robert K. Merton asserts that certain types of criminal acts happen as a result of the inability to attain goods (in socially acceptable ways). This assertion dates back to 1938, when the Irish-American bootleggers struggled to get by on the streets of North Side Chicago.

It will probably take some time before academics can tackle this issue with total confidence. Because there is so much conflicting data regarding the link between crime and wages, it is hard to make a solid declaration. Nevertheless, it is not easy to get by without financial means. This, in some situations, could lead to drastic measures.

If you have been charged with a serious crime, it is helpful to retain the assistance of a criminal attorney. Do not fight this battle alone. Criminal charges can be difficult to address - in and out of court. To learn more, speak with a professional in your area.

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