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Unemployment, Business Cycles, Crime, and the Canadian Provinces

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 41 Issue: 4 Dated: July - August 2013 Pages: 220-227
Martin A. Andresen
Date Published
August 2013
8 pages
This Canadian study tested the Cantor and Land (1985) model for the relationship between economic performance and crime using four economy-related variables in the analysis: gross provincial product (GPP), gross provincial product per capita, unemployment rate, and low income.
The Cantor and Land model of unemployment and crime separates the impact of an economic downturn (total system activity) into two effects: the system activity effect (motivation for crime) and the guardianship effect (opportunity for crime). Increased motivation leads to an increase in crime because of economic hardship, and increased guardianship leads to a decrease in crime because of decreased criminal opportunities as more people stay at home guarding person and property. The results of the current study provide strong support for the Cantor and Land model, using GPP, GPP per capita, the unemployment rate, and low income. Although both motivation and guardianship/opportunity matter differently for each variable representing economic activity, guardianship/opportunity emerges more often and consistently than motivation; however, this does not imply that one effect dominates the other, only that each effect matters to a greater or lesser degree for different crime types and variables. In an effort to address the implications of using multiple measures of economic activity as in the current study, more research in a U.S. State-level context should be undertaken with multiple measures of economic activity simultaneously. This will allow for a direct comparison between the established research on the Cantor and Land model with the results produced in the current analysis. In addition, the Cantor and Land model must be assessed in other contexts, particularly other nations, at the subnational level. This enables further corroboration of past research and possibly further insight using a similar empirical and methodological approach as was used in the current research. 2 tables and 57 references