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Soc Sci Res. 2014 May;45:33-45. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2013.12.007. Epub 2014 Jan 2.

Link between unemployment and crime in the US: a Markov-Switching approach.

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Department of Economics, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran. Electronic address:
Department of Economics, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Peru.


This study has two goals. The first is to use Markov Switching models to identify and analyze the cycles in the unemployment rate and four different types of property-related criminal activities in the US. The second is to apply the nonparametric concordance index of Harding and Pagan (2006) to determine the correlation between the cycles of unemployment rate and property crimes. Findings show that there is a positive but insignificant relationship between the unemployment rate, burglary, larceny, and robbery. However, the unemployment rate has a significant and negative (i.e., a counter-cyclical) relationship with motor-vehicle theft. Therefore, more motor-vehicle thefts occur during economic expansions relative to contractions. Next, we divide the sample into three different subsamples to examine the consistency of the findings. The results show that the co-movements between the unemployment rate and property crimes during recession periods are much weaker, when compared with that of the normal periods of the US economy.


Business cycles; Concordance; Crime; Markov-Switching models; Unemployment

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