This study sought to investigate the impact of police population, arrests rates, unemployment, educational attainment, average income, income inequality and degree of garrisonization on the incidence of violent crimes and property crimes in Jamaica.
The rate of arrest and average income variables were found to be robust (strong) determinants of violent crime, with both exhibiting a negative relationship. That is, an increase in either arrest rates or average income would be associated with a decrease in violent crimes.
The results for property crime were quite different; the arrest rate was not found to be significant, while average income was found to be positively correlated to the incidence of property crimes. Income inequality (as measured by the Gini Index) also proved to be a positive determinant of property crime.
The policy implications of this paper are as follows:
1. In order to combat violent crime local authorities should focus on improving the arrest rates for violent offenses as opposed to trying to influence any of the other variables investigated in this paper.
2. Though it may be tempting to tout economic growth as a strategy for reducing violent crimes, this would result in a trade-off between violent crime and property crimes, with the latter responding far more sensitively.
3. Reducing the inequality gap is the most effective means by which the authorities may pursue a reduction in property crime. Although average income was also found to be a significant factor, it exhibited a positive relationship, meaning that economic growth should not be expected to deter property crime. On the contrary, the results suggest that property crime in Jamaica is likely to be exacerbated by growth, unless the growth effect is offset by an aggressive reduction in income inequality.
Author: Nadia Grant- Reid, Bsc., MSc.
UWI Lecturer of Economics (Western Campus)
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