Unemployment and delinquency

Examination of a causal connection

Term Paper, 2009

16 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of Contents


I. Introduction

II. Empirical studies
1) Crime statistics
a) Share in suspects
b) Duration of unemployment
c) Repeated delinquency
d) Categories of crime
e) Reliability of crime statistics
2) Studies of the ifo institute
3) Conclusion

III. Consequences of Unemployment
1) Social groups affected by unemployment
2) Impact of unemployment

IV. Causes of delinquency
1) Motivational theories
2) Bond theories

V. Links between unemployment and crime
1) Anomy
2) The importance of social networks
3) Discussion

VI. Conclusion


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

I. Introduction

It is a stereotype and a lot of people think it true: Unemployed people are more criminal than others. Based on empirical studies and criminological essays, this paper shall find out if this is actually true.

It shall be examined if there is a direct connection between unemployment and delinquency, focusing on the individuals and the question if unemployment causes them to commit a crime.

To become acquainted with the origins of delinquency and the situation of unemployed individuals, the work of Hirschi and the report of Krüger and Amelang, which contain essential information, have been of great importance.

To gather empirical evidence for a connection, criminal statistics and other empirical studies shall be examined at first. Afterwards, the consequences of unemployment and the causes of delinquency shall be described. Eventually it shall be determined if consequences and causes correspond to each other or induce one another. Referring to the results the conclusion will answer the question if there is a link.

II. Empirical studies

In this section it shall be determined if there are any empirical data that suggest a link between unemployment and crime.

1) Crime statistics

The 2006 crime statistics of North Rhine-Westphalia were the last ones in Germany to indicate the number of suspects that were unemployed. Hereafter it shall be examined if the share of unemployed people in the suspects is higher than their share in the entire population of North Rhine-Westphalia and if the duration of unemployment increases this share.

a) Share in suspects

According to the 2006 crime statistics there were 418,074 suspects aged 14 to 59 in North Rhine-Westphalia. 36,791 of them were unemployed. This is a share of 8.8 %.[1]

In September 2006 there were 976,092 unemployed people in North Rhine-Westphalia.[2] There were approximately 11.08 million people aged 14 to 59 staying in North Rhine-Westphalia.[3] Therefore unemployed people had a share in the entire population of 8.8 %. This percentage was thus as high as their share in the suspects. In view thereof it can be stated that unemployed people are not more likely to be suspects than people who have got a job.

b) Duration of unemployment

20,088 of 36,791 unemployed suspects had been unemployed for more than a year.[4] Those people and pupils who have come out of school without doing an apprenticeship afterwards receive grants according to the social security code II (SGB II). To determine if the people receiving those grants are more likely to be suspects their share in unemployed suspects must be compared to their share in unemployed people. In 2006 68 % of all unemployed people in North Rhine-Westphalia received grants according to SGB II.[5] 64.9 % of unemployed suspects received those grants.[6] Receivers of the grants are thus not more likely to be suspects than unemployed people who do not receive them. Therefore the duration of unemployment does not have any effect on the likelihood of being a suspect.

c) Repeated delinquency

In 2006 there were altogether 508,528 suspects, which means that there were people caught by the police more than once in 2006. If one divides this number by the number of single suspects – 418,074 – it arises as a result that every suspect was caught 1.21 times.

48,976 unemployed suspects were counted in 2006. Considering the number of single suspects – 36,791 – one concludes that every unemployed suspect was caught 1.33 times.[7]

Consequently, unemployed suspects are caught more often during a certain period of time than suspects with a job.

d) Categories of crime

The criminal statistics also indicate what kind of crime the suspects have supposedly committed. A group is disproportionally often suspected of a crime if the group’s share in the people suspected of that crime exceeds their average share in suspects. This average share of unemployed suspects is 9.6 %, which is the result of the number of unemployed suspects – 48,796 – divided by the number of all suspects – 508,528.

Unemployed people were disproportionally often suspected of violent offences against property. 16.4 % of those suspected of robbery were unemployed.

Moreover, unemployed people were disproportionally often suspected of offences against the sexual self-determination and offences against life, too. 14.0 % or 29.1 % respectively of those suspected thereof were unemployed.

Unemployed people were also suspected of having committed crimes related to drugs more frequently than other crimes. 13.4% of suspects who had supposedly been involved in a crime related to drugs were unemployed.[8]

Unemployed citizens were thus disproportionally often suspected of offences against property, life, the sexual self-determination and crimes related to drugs.

e) Reliability of crime statistics

The reliability and significance of the presented crime statistics is to be questioned. First of all, the statistics only indicate if suspects were unemployed.[9] There are no statistics available that disclose if unemployed suspects were also convicted or if convicted citizens were unemployed. However, this lack of significance does not affect the conclusion drawn above since it concerns both unemployed and employed suspects.

Moreover, the definition of “unemployed” is problematic. It only includes people that have reported to the federal agency and are in search of a job. It thus does not include citizens who have not reported to this agency or do not look for a job.[10] Therefore, a group of suspects that are usually considered unemployed are not filed as unemployed.[11] If those people were also regarded as unemployed, the share of unemployed people in suspects would increase. It would not affect the results presented above though, since their share in the entire population would also rise and the crime rate of unemployed people not registered cannot be determined.

Another problematic aspect of these statistics is the fact that it was not compulsory for the suspect to specify if he or she is unemployed.[12] He might not have specified it for shame or other reasons. This certainly reduced the number of unemployed suspects.

The share of unemployed people may have been raised by the bad image of unemployed people in the society. Referring to studies that dealt with the attitudes of citizens towards unemployed people, Krüger and Amelang state that the police and judicial authorities tend to pursue unemployed citizens more systematically than other groups.[13]

The share of unemployed people is thus a realistic figure since the factors influencing the statistics can be assumed to compensate one another.


[1] Kriminalitätsentwicklung im Land Nordrhein-Westfalen Jahr 2006, published by Landeskriminalamt Nordrhein-Westfalen, Duesseldorf 2007, p. 18.

[2] Monats-/Jahreszahlen 2006 (Arbeitsmarkt in Zahlen), published by Bundesagentur für Arbeit Statistik, Nuremberg 2006, p. 59.

[3] Landesdatenbank NRW (landesdatenbank.nrw.de), population on 12/31/2006.

[4] Kriminalitätsentwicklung im Land Nordrhein-Westfalen Jahr 2006, p. 20.

[5] Monats-/Jahreszahlen 2006, p. I.

[6] Kriminalitätsentwicklung im Land Nordrhein-Westfalen Jahr 2006, p. 20.

[7] Kriminalitätsentwicklung im Land Nordrhein-Westfalen Jahr 2006, p. 19.

[8] Kriminalitätsentwicklung im Land Nordrhein-Westfalen Jahr 2006, p. 19.

[9] Krüger / Amelang, p. 4.

[10] Kriminalitätsentwicklung im Land Nordrhein-Westfalen Jahr 2006, p. 18.

[11] Dessecker, p. 23.

[12] Kriminalitätsentwicklung im Land Nordrhein-Westfalen Jahr 2006, p. 18.

[13] Krüger / Amelang, p. 25; see also: Schuman, p. 58, who states the same regarding young men who have not completed their apprenticeship.

Excerpt out of 16 pages


Unemployment and delinquency
Examination of a causal connection
University of Bremen  (Hanse Law School)
Kriminologie und Grundlagen des Strafrechts
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
446 KB
Unemployment, Examination
Quote paper
Björn Hoops (Author), 2009, Unemployment and delinquency, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/137604


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