RIVAF research: “Monitoring the impact of the global financial crisis on crime”

Pulse Lab New York

Project Description

As part of UN Global Pulse’s “Rapid Impact and Vulnerability Assessment Fund,” the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) researched how crises may impact crime levels. More specifically, the analysis is an exploratory attempt to consider whether changes in specific crime types over time may be associated with economic changes as at least one component of underlying factors.

This report describes findings from 15 countries – Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Italy, Jamaica, Latvia, Mauritius, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay. While the majority of the data is considered at a national level, data was taken from four cities – Buenos Aires, Montevideo, São Paulo and Rio De Janerio. These countries and cities were chosen based on a number of factors including overall crime levels, experience of economic downturn during the 2008/2009 financial crisis, the ability to supply high frequency police-recorded crime data, and broad geographic distribution.

The research found that, both in times of economic crisis or non-crisis, economic factors played an important role in the evolution of crime trends. Statistical modeling identified an economic predictor for at least one crime type in twelve countries out of a total of fifteen countries examined. Violent property crime, such as robbery, appeared most affected during times of crisis, with up to twofold increases in some contexts. While in some cases it was difficult to discern a peak in crime, in no case was a decrease in crime observed during a period of economic stress.

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