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Property crime and economic behavior

The findings of studies reviewed in this report indicate that economic deprivation can lead to youth violence and crime. Such violence need not be only instrumental; for example, aimed to relieve poverty or acquire goods that youths do not have; but may also be violent, as economic deprivation may create feelings of hopelessness and anger, which may lead to diffuse aggression Research on relative deprivation, covered in another section of this report, sensitizes us to the fact that actual as well as perceived economic deprivation can lead to youth violence. This is especially true if one’s economic deprivation is believed to be unjust; for example, when one believes that one is economically deprived because of ascribed factors such as race. The implication is that policy initiatives need to reduce the actual levels of poverty and inequality that beset youths, as well as eliminate or reduce the perception that people are in poverty or are the victims of inequality. One way to change perceptions is to change the actuality. That is, addressing actual poverty and inequality, by providing skills training and employment for youths, may also affect perceptions of economic deprivation. It should be noted, however, that perceptions may or may not always change as predicted. In this respect, it may be prudent for policy-makers to be sensitive to the factors that may affect perceptions. One body of literature that is potentially useful in this respect is the social-psychological writing on attitudes and attitude change.

With respect to changing actual levels of economic deprivation, is especially important. Currie asserts that an effective anti-crime strategy should include the direct creation of jobs in areas demonstrating a pressing social need; systematic attempts to raise wages and lessen earnings disparities, particularly those related to gender and race; improvement of national job training and school-to-work transitions; and introducing legislation to shorten the workday and spread available work time. An important feature of is that this article critically examines previous antipoverty programs that have failed to reduce crime problems in the United States. Important lessons may be learned from these past failures.