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Association of Education, Unemployment, and financial deprivation, with Criminology

February 14, 2017



Social crime prevention aims at social causes of crime (Young, 2001), like unemployment, education, and poverty. The role of schools for both vulnerable individuals and ex-offenders are considerable as many have mentioned how educational failure relates to criminal behaviour (Ward & Tittle, 1994).


This report argues that under-educated people are not as successful as educated ones in aligning their desires with the ones of the society, and eventually end up rejecting the state and its values.


Research shows that a large number of inmates were unemployed at the time of offending (Bouffard, MacKenzie, & Hickman, 2000). Unemployment and the financial exclusion that it brings, lead to a level of stress that frustrates the individuals with delinquent tendencies into crime (Linsky & Straus, 1986). This report explores the employment programmes that have shown positive results in declining recidivism.


Literature review and Discussion

It is argued that education gives individuals the skills to achieve desires in a good way while the uneducated people do not know how to adjust their desires to the ones of the society and will eventually reject the society and its values (Clayborne, Grant, Jones, & Rutherford, 2003).


Education has a fundamental role in social progress (Dewey, 1889), but if the education system does not meet its potential in the field of crime prevention (Counts, 1932; Tyack, 1974), and fails in educating the younger generation in the way that reformists such as Dewey had hoped (Clayborne, Grant, Jones, & Rutherford, 2003), the outcome can be very bitter, like the rise of juvenile homicides between 1984 and 1994 (Gergen, 1996).


Under-education leads to fewer employment chances, and the stress of financial deprivation caused by it has a high correlation with crime, meaning that in a stressful situation such as unemployment or poverty, individuals with deviant tendencies are more likely to engage in criminal conduct (Linsky & Straus, 1986).


Although some of the school approaches toward crime reduction has shown positive results (Tobin & Guerra, 1994; Sherman, et al., 1997a,b), failure of education system in crime reduction lies rather in the causal factors of crime (American Psychological Association, 1993; Gibbons, 1986; Reiss & Roth, 1993), or the fact that some of the underlying causes of crime are deeply rooted (Herrnstein, 1995).


It has been suggested that both factors of education and unemployment have a correlation with crime (Bushway & Reuter, 1997). Therefore, approaches that consider only one of them cannot ultimately be successful (Clayborne, Grant, Jones, & Rutherford, 2003). As per the research of Home office in 2003, the role of education alongside police action is vital to reach the desired impact (Brookman & Maguire, 2005).


Many have researched the relation between unemployment and crime (Gluesk & Gluesk, 1930; Wolfgang, et al., 1972; Farrington, 1986; Sampson & Laub, 1993), one in particular, shows that the majority of offenders have been unemployed when committed the crime (Bouffard, MacKenzie, & Hickman, 2000). Unemployment and the financial deprivation it causes is the main crime root (Berk, Lenihan, & Rossi, 1980). The current way of poverty measurement has many flaws and does not correlate with the rate of crime.


Therefore, Human Poverty Index - a multidimensional measure of poverty - has been introduced (Petrovec, 2000). This new method has shown that the poverty scale in a country has a direct relation to that country’s crime rate (Grimshaw & Solomon, 2009).


However, providing safe jobs and better welfare is not the best solution to unemployment and poverty. In the Scandinavian model, the state has high amounts of investment in education and provides what is referred as the safety net. The problem is that it removes the fear of becoming jobless which is an important motivation for workers as they know it is very unlikely to lose their job (Glas, 2003).



Social crime prevention looks at dealing with social roots of crime. Employment, education, or lack of them, have a strong relationship with crime and re-offending rate with most of the prisoners being either under-educated or unemployed at the time they committed a crime.


Uneducated individuals will often reject the society’s values as they are unable to align their desires with social norms. There are promising programmes that have reduced re-offending rate.


The stress caused by financial deprivation can push individuals who are permissive to delinquency into criminal behaviour. Therefore, moving toward a society with policies that avoid increasing the distance between the rich and poor part of society is important in keeping poverty related crimes at bay.


Implications and Recommendations

Education is a long-term solution for society to confront criminal activity. To reach a crime-free society, students should be taught towards pro-social and moral behaviour, and if the focus remains solely on the notion of crime, we might be in a forever struggle (Clayborne, Grant, Jones, & Rutherford, 2003).


Work release or pre-release programmes where the inmates are released from prison to engage in work-based activities (Bouffard, MacKenzie, & Hickman, 2000), have had modest results on re-offending reduction to a level that Turner & Petersilia (1996) call it promising. Community employment scheme also has succeeded in reducing recidivism by 10% in 1994 (Uggen, 1997).


To overcome the poverty, the state should avoid increasing the gap between the rich and poor section of society as it may contribute to creating a marginal group with health or social exclusion (Petrovec, 2000). The ideal solution is to create a rich society that ensures the economic growth during globalisation in a way that as Stiglitz - Economics Nobel Prize Winner -  puts it, does not produce poor people, a society in which winners share with losers (Stiglitz, 2006).



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American Psychological Association. (1993). Violence and youth. Washington DC: American Psychological Association Press.


Berk, R., Lenihan, K., & Rossi, P. (1980). Crime an poverty: som experimental evidence from ex-offenders. American sociological review(45), 766-786.


Bouffard, J., MacKenzie, D., & Hickman, L. (2000). Effectiveness of Vocational Education and Employment Programs for Adult Offenders A Methodology-Based Analysis of the Literature. Journal of offender rehabilitation, 31(1-2), 1-41.


Brookman, F., & Maguire, M. (2005). Reducing homicide: A review of the possibilities. Crime, Law & Social Change, 42(4-5), 325-403.


Bushway, S., & Reuter, P. (1997). Labor markets and crime risk factors. In L. Sherman, D. Gotfredson, D. MacKenzie, J. Eck, P. Reuter, & S. Bushway, Preventing crime: What works, What doesn't, What's promising (pp. 14-19).

Washington DC: National institute of justice.


Clayborne, M., Grant, J., Jones, C., & Rutherford, G. (2003). Attacking Crime at Its Source: Consciousness-Based Education in the Prevention of Violence and Antisocial Behavior. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 36(1-4), 229-255.


Counts, G. (1932). Dare the school build a new social order? New York: The John Day company.


Dewey, J. (1889). My pedagogic creed. In R. Archambault, John Dewey on education: Selected writings (pp. 427-439). New York: Modern Library.


Farrington, D. (1986). Age and crime. Crime and justice, 7, 189-250.


Farrington, D. (1991). Childhood aggression and adult violence: Early precursors and later-life outcomes. In D. Pepler, & K. Rubin, The development and treatment of childhood aggression (pp. 5-29). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.


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Gergen, D. (1996, March 25). Taming teenage woldpacks. U.S. News and world report, 120(12), p. 68.


Gibbons, D. (1986). Juvenile delinquency: Can social science find a cure? Crime and Delinquency, 32(2), 186-204.


Glas, M. (2003). Ethics and entrepreneurs. An international comparative study. Journal of Business Venturing, 18(2), 261-281.


Gluesk, S., & Gluesk, E. (1930). 500 Criminal careers. New York: Knopf.


Grimshaw, R., & Solomon, E. (2009). The sharp end of politcs? Criminal justice matters, 72(1), 44-45.


Hebberecht, P., & Baillergeau, E. (2012). Introduction. In P. Hebberecht, & E. Baillergeau, Social crime prevention in late modern Europe (pp. 7-19). Brussels: VUBPRESS Brussels University Press.


Herrnstein, R. (1995). Criminogenic traits. In J. Petersilia, & J. Wilson, Crime (pp. 39-64). San Francisco: Institute for contemporary studies press.


Linsky, A., & Straus, M. (1986). Social stress in the United States: Links to regional patterns in crime and illness. Westport: Auburn House.


Moffitt, T. (1993). Adolescent limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: A developmental taxonomy. Psychological review, 100(4), 674-701.


Office of national drug control policy. (1998). The national drug control strategy: A ten year plan. Retrieved from National criminal justice refference service:


Petrovec, D. (2000). Poverty and reaction to crime-freedom without responsibilty. The Euorpean Journal of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, 4, 377-389.


Reiss, A., & Roth, J. (1993). Understanding and preventing violence (Vol. 1). Washington DC: National Academy Press.


Sampson, R., & Laub, J. (1993). Crime in the making: pathways and turning points thorugh life. Cambridge: Harvard University press.


Sherman, L. W., Gottfredson, D. C., MacKenzie, D. L., Eck, J., Reuter, P., & Bushway, S. D. (1997)a. Preventing crime: what works, what doesn't, what's promising. Research in brief. Washington DC: National Institue of Justice.


Sherman, L. W., Gottfredson, D. C., MacKenzie, D. L., Eck, J., Reuter, P., & Bushway, S. D. (1997)b. Preventing crime: what's working, what doesn't, what's promising. U.S. Office of justice Programs.


Stiglitz, J. (2006, 09 25). GLOBAL ECONOMIC VIEWPOINT. Retrieved from NPQ:


Tobin, P., & Guerra, N. (1994). What works in reducing adolescent violence: An empirical review of the field. Boulder: Centre for the study and prevention of violence.


Turner, S., & Petersilia, J. (1996). Work release in Washington: Effects on recidivism and corrections costs. Prison journal, 76(2), 138-164.


Tyack, D. (1974). The one best system: A history of American urban education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.


Uggen, C. (1997). Age, employment and the duration structure of recidivism: Estimating the ‘‘true effect’’ of work on crime. San Diego: Paper delivered at the American society of criminology meeting, San Diego.


Ward, D., & Tittle, C. (1994). IQ and delinquncy: A test of two competing explanations. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 10, 189-212.


Wolfgang, M., Figlio, R., & Sellin, T. (1972). Delinquency in a birth cohort. Chicago: University of chicago press.

Young, J. (2001). Social crime prevention. In E. McLaughlin, & J. Muncie (Eds.), The sage dictionary of Criminology (p. 272). London: Sage.


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