Blue-Collar Crime: Definition, Statistics & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Is Blue-Collar Crime?
  • 1:04 Legal Classification
  • 1:40 Examples
  • 1:45 White-Collar Crime
  • 2:21 Differences: Blue &…
  • 3:35 Crime Statistics
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Blue-collar crimes are crimes committed by people who are from a lower social class. Learn more about blue-collar crimes from examples and test your knowledge with a quiz.

What Is Blue-Collar Crime?

Blue-collar crime is a term used to describe crimes that are committed primarily by people who are from a lower social class. This is in contrast to white-collar crime, which refers to crime that is usually committed by people from a higher social class.

So, where does the term 'blue collar' come from? The phrase 'blue collar' was coined in the 1920s to refer to American workers who perform manual labor jobs. These jobs are very messy, so the workers would wear dark clothing in order to minimize the appearance of stains. Many also wore uniforms or shirts that were usually blue, hence the term 'blue collar.' Blue-collar workers include janitors, construction workers, millwrights, and production laborers.

Most blue-collar workers are paid a low hourly wage, though the pay varies greatly depending upon the specific occupation and the worker's level of skill. In contrast, white-collar workers generally have higher paying jobs that do not involve manual labor. White-collar workers tend to work in an office setting; therefore, they are able to wear 'white collars' without fear of getting them dirty. White-collar workers include accountants, business managers, lawyers, and doctors.

Legal Classification

Blue-collar crime is not a formal legal classification of crime. It's an informal term that is used to describe certain types of crimes. Blue-collar crimes are those that are most commonly committed by people who are from a lower social class, such as blue-collar workers. Blue-collar workers may not have access to the same resources as white-collar workers, so they tend to commit crimes that are immediate and personal in nature, such as robbery, rather than crimes that involve elaborate planning.

This is not to say that white-collar workers don't commit blue-collar crimes. Rather, it's just that the people that commit the majority of these crimes are from a lower social class.


Examples of blue-collar crimes include:

  • Armed robbery
  • Murder and other violent crimes
  • Sexual assault
  • Burglary and theft
  • Breaking and entering
  • Drug abuse

White-Collar Crime

Due to the nature of their work, blue-collar workers generally don't have the access or opportunity to commit crimes within the work organization, such as securities fraud or embezzlement. These crimes require a certain amount of status and power within the organization that can only be gained by white-collar workers, like being a business manager or a chief executive office of a corporation.

Forms of white-collar crime include:

  • Stock fraud
  • Bribery
  • Work health and safety violations
  • Income tax evasion

Differences Between Blue and White Collar Crimes

There are more differences between blue-collar crimes and white-collar crimes, such as their economic and social impacts. A few of these differences include:

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