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Research Papers that Explore Poverty as a Cause of Crime

Research papers that explore poverty as a cause for crime take a look at sociological factors that may induce an individual to engage in criminal activity. The researchers at Paper Masters will compose an original project that explicates the cause and effect factor of poverty and crime.

In your project, you may want to describe in detail how you would test the following theory, using the scientific method, "Poverty has some effect on crime." A good place to start is by reading the following articles:

  • Poverty Does Not Cause Crime by Eli Lehrer (2004).
  • Poverty Causes Crime by George Winslow (2004).

Outlining Topics in a Cause and Effect Research Paper on Poverty and Crime

  1. Introduction: Rephrase the theory mentioned above into a cause & effect hypothesis that you can test with empirical data.poverty and crime
  2. Body Paragraph 1: Operationalize the key concepts in your hypothesis. It is very important to be as specific as possible here. After reading your operationalization, I should have no further questions as to what you're testing.
  3. Paragraph 2: Describe in specific detail where you would obtain the most unbiased and reliable empirical data to test this hypothesis. It is not enough to mention a journal article or book or newspaper … where and how did those authors get their data? What is the original source of the data?
    1. Then, describe in detail what the limitations of this data are - no data is perfect. For example, in our gender and voting example, our data came from a government phone survey of voting, where people could lie over the phone, or not have a phone to begin with, etc.
  4. Paragraph 3: Describe how you would analyze this data. That is, identify at least four important factors other than poverty, which might affect crime. Then, describe how these factors might affect the crime.
  5. Conclusion: Offer some logical conclusions that incorporate what you learned during your analysis. Since you're not actually collecting data and conducting statistical analysis, the conclusions you provide will be hypothetical.

An association between poverty and crime has long been assumed.  Karl Marx implied this relationship when he suggested that crime was the inevitable result of economic class struggle.  In 1862, Victor-Marie Hugo published his famous Les Misèrables, the story of Jean Valjean, who was sent to prison for nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving sister and her family.  The basic assumption that Hugo and others have made is that when an individual lacks the funds to secure those items necessary to sustain life, he or she will become involved in crime in order to obtain them.

However, research demonstrates that the relationship between crime and poverty is not that simple.  There are several factors that affect this complex relationship in various ways, and so the predictions that follow from an overly simplistic theory are often inaccurate.  For example, the idea that poverty causes crime would imply that all poor people will commit crimes, given the necessity and the opportunity.  This suggestion is obviously false; there are many poor people who never commit crimes.  Conversely, many economically advantaged individuals do commit crimes.  The intuitive assumption that poverty causes crime might also suggest that the only criminal acts correlated with poverty would be those resulting in increased money or goods.  Yet this is not the case.

A logical off-shoot of the theory that people subjected to impoverished living conditions are more likely to commit crimes might be that criminal behavior is the result of living in these conditions for long periods of time.  So, the question becomes, for what length of time must an individual live in impoverished conditions before he or she becomes more likely to commit a crime?  Possibly, individuals subjected to relatively short periods of unemployment may be more likely to commit crimes than those for whom financial difficulties are ongoing and seem hopeless.  And again, participation in criminal activity for these individuals may not be limited to cases in which money or goods are acquired, but may also include aggressive acts such as murder.

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