How Demographics Contribute to Crime

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  • 0:04 Demographics and Crime
  • 1:23 Social Class
  • 2:44 Age
  • 3:22 Gender
  • 4:18 Race
  • 5:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

This lesson examines how demographics can tell us about crime. Review how social class relates to crime. In addition, examine how age, gender, and race are related to crime.

Demographics and Crime

Demographics, which are characteristics about a set of people, teach us about patterns in society, from why people shop in a certain store, to why people only eat in certain restaurants. However, demographics can also tell us about crime. Criminologists use demographics to help understand why crime occurs in certain locations. In addition, demographics help explain who commits crime and the reasons why. The demographics of social class, age, gender, and race can all be studied to understand crime.

Meet Bob. Bob is a single, white man who just had his twentieth birthday. Bob resides in a lower-class, inner city project in a neighborhood characterized by physical deterioration. Bob is trying to get a full time job but is struggling because he lacks a high school diploma.

Now meet Jim, a 70-year-old African American man. Jim resides in an upper-middle class, traditional suburb of New York. He retired after putting in 30 years on the police force.

What do demographics on crime say about Bob and Jim? Well, let's take a look at the association between social class, age, gender and racial patterns with crime and see where Bob and Jim fit in.

Social Class

The first crime demographic we'll look at is the association between social class and crime. Data indicate that crime rates are highest in areas that are located in lower-class, inner city areas.

Under the broken window hypothesis, deteriorated neighborhoods attract criminal activity. In other words, the dilapidated housing located in the lower-class, inner city area leads to increased problems in vandalism, crime and safety issues. This leads to physical disorder, which causes residents to avoid going outdoors, making the neighborhood appear vulnerable to criminal offenders. Ultimately, the community will attract crime.

Now, let's take a look at Bob and Jim. It looks like Bob falls into this demographic. Bob resides in an inner city project that features physical deterioration. As discussed, crime rates are highest in lower-class, inner city areas. Moreover, under the broken window hypothesis, these areas attract criminal activity. Thus, under this crime demographic, it looks like Bob has a significant chance of falling into crime or becoming a victim of crime in his community. Conversely, Jim lives in an upper-middle class neighborhood in the suburbs. Jim does not fall into this particular crime demographic for risk of high crime.


Demgographic Chart

The next crime demographic we'll examine is age as it relates to crime. 2012 Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics illustrate that individuals between 16 and 25 have a significantly high arrest rate. The arrest rate for this age range is much higher than other ages. In fact, this segment of the population will peak in the mid-20s and then decline with age, as you can see in the top right hand portion of the chart. On the other hand, the statistics here demonstrate that the primary reasons why older men over the age of 65 are arrested are for assaults, larceny or petty theft and drugs.


The association between crime and gender is the next demographic we will review. 2010 Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics indicate that the crime rate for men is consistently higher than women. In fact, statistics demonstrate that the chance of men being arrested for violent crimes is as much as four times greater than that of women.

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