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Correlates of crime

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Many different correlates of crime have been proposed with varying degrees of empirical support. The causes of crime is one of the major research areas in criminology. A large number of narrow and broad theories have been proposed for explaining crime. These must then be scrutinized further because correlation does not imply causation.

The Handbook of Crime Correlates (2009) is a systematic review of worldwide empirical studies on crime publicized in the academic literature. The results of a total of 5200 studies are summarized. In order to identify well-established relationships to crime consistency scores were calculated for the factors which many studies have examined. The scoring depends on how consistent a statistically significant relationship was found in the studies. The authors argue that the review summaries most of what is currently known of variables associated with criminality.[1]



Crime is most frequent in second and third decades of life.[1]


Males commit more overall and violent crime. They also commit more property crime except Wikipedia:shoplifting, which is about equally distributed between the genders. Males appear to be more likely to recidivate.[1]


Measures related to Wikipedia:arousal such as Wikipedia:heart rate and Wikipedia:skin conductance are low among criminals.[1]

Body typeEdit

Wikipedia:Mesomorphic or muscular body type is positively correlated with criminality specifically of the sexual nature.[1]


Wikipedia:Testosterone is positively correlated to criminality.[1]

Biochemical markersEdit

Low Wikipedia:monoamine oxidase activity and low Wikipedia:5-HIAA levels are found among criminals.[1]

Race, ethnicity, and immigrationEdit

There is a relationship between Wikipedia:race and crime.[1]

Ethnically/racially diverse areas probably have higher crime rates compared to ethnically/racially homogeneous areas.[1]

Most studies on immigrants have found higher rates of crime. However, this varies greatly depending on the country of origin with immigrants from some regions having lower crime rates than the indigenous population.[1]

Early lifeEdit


Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with later criminality. Wikipedia:Low birth weight and Wikipedia:perinatal trauma/birth complications may be more prevalent among criminals.[1][2]


Child maltreatment, low parent-child attachment, marital discord/family discord, alcoholism and drug use in the family, and low parental supervision/monitoring are associated with criminality. Larger family size and later birth order are also associated.[1]


Wikipedia:Nocturnal enuresis or bed wetting correlates with criminality.[1]


Wikipedia:Bullying is positively related to criminal behavior.[1]


School disciplinary problems, Wikipedia:truancy, low Wikipedia:grade point average, and dropping out of high school are associated with criminality.[1]

Lead PoisoningEdit

Childhood lead exposure of a population correlates with criminal activity approximately twenty years later.[3]

Adult behaviorEdit

Alcohol and illegal drug useEdit

High alcohol use, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism, as well as high illegal drug use and dependence are positively related to criminality in general.[1]


Early age of first intercourse and more sexual partners are associated with criminality.[1]


Few friends, criminal friends, and gang membership correlate positively with criminality.[1]


High religious involvement, high importance of religion in one's life, membership in an organized religion, and orthodox religious beliefs are believed to be associated with less criminality.[1] However, studies have shown that more secular nations have lower rates of violent crimes such as murder.[4]

Physical healthEdit

General morbidityEdit

Criminals probably suffer from more illnesses.[1]


Wikipedia:Epilepsy appears to have a positive correlation with criminality.[1]

Accidental injuriesEdit

Criminals are more frequently accidentally injured.[1]

Psychological traitsEdit

Conduct disorder and antisocial personality disorderEdit

Childhood Wikipedia:conduct disorder and adult Wikipedia:antisocial personality disorder are associated with one another and criminal behavior.[1][5]

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorderEdit

Wikipedia:Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder correlates positively with criminality.[1]

Depression and suicideEdit

Minor depression and probably clinical depression is more likely among offenders. Depression in the family is associated with criminality. Criminals are more likely to be suicidal.[1]


Wikipedia:Schizophrenia and criminality appear to be positively correlated.[1][6]

Intelligence quotient and learning disabilitiesEdit

There is also a relationship between lower IQ and crime.

The Wikipedia:American Psychological Association's 1995 report Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns stated that the correlation between IQ and crime was -0.2. In his book The g Factor (1998), Arthur Jensen cited data which showed that, regardless of race, people with IQs between 70 and 90 have higher crime rates than people with IQs below or above this range, with the peak range being between 80 and 90.

A learning disability is a substantial discrepancy between IQ and academic performance. It has a relationship to criminal behavior. Slow reading development may be particularly relevant.[1]

Personality traitsEdit

Several personality traits are associated with criminality: High Wikipedia:impulsivity, high Wikipedia:psychoticism, high Wikipedia:sensation-seeking, low Wikipedia:self control, high Wikipedia:aggression in childhood, and low Wikipedia:empathy and Wikipedia:altruism.[1]

Socioeconomic factorsEdit

Higher total Wikipedia:socioeconomic status (usually measured using the three variables income (or wealth), occupational level, and years of education) correlate with less crime. Longer education is associated with less crime. Higher income/wealth have a somewhat inconsistent correlation with less crime with the exception of self-report illegal drug use for which there is no relation. Higher parental socioeconomic status probably has an inverse relationship with crime.[1]

High frequency of changing jobs and high frequency of unemployment for a person correlate with criminality.[1]

Somewhat inconsistent evidence indicates that there is a relationship between low income, percentage under the poverty line, few years of education, and high income inequality in an area and more crime in the area.[1]

The relationship between the state of the economy and crime rates is inconsistent among the studies. The same for differences in unemployment between different regions and crime rates. There is a slight tendency in the majority of the studies for higher unemployment rate to be positively associated with crime rates.[1]

Other geographic factorsEdit

Cities or counties with larger populations have higher crime rates. Poorly maintained neighborhoods correlate with higher crime rates. High residential mobility is associated with a higher crime rate. More taverns and alcohol stores, as well as more gambling and tourist establishments, in an area are positively related to criminality.[1]

There appears to be higher crime rates in the geographic regions of a country that are closer to the equator.[1]

Weather, season and climateEdit

Crime rates vary with temperature depending on both short-term Wikipedia:weather and Wikipedia:season. The relationship between the hotter months of summer and a peak in rape and assault seems to be almost universal. For other crimes there are also seasonal or monthly patterns but they are more inconsistent across nations. On the other hand for Wikipedia:climate, there is a higher crime rate in the southern US but this largely disappears after non-climatic factors are controlled for.[7]

Victims and fear of crimeEdit

Risk of being a Wikipedia:crime victim is highest for teens through mid 30s and lowest for the elderly. Wikipedia:Fear of crime shows the opposite pattern. Criminals are more often crime victims. Females fear crimes more than males. Black Americans appear to fear crime more. Black people are more often victims, especially of murder.[1]

Cultural and societal – Specific factorsEdit

Media depiction of violenceEdit

Wikipedia:Media violence research examines whether links between consuming media violence and subsequent aggressive and violent behavior exists.

Gun politicsEdit

The effect of Wikipedia:gun politics on crime is a controversial research area.


Both legal and illegal drugs are implicated in Wikipedia:drug-related crime.

Being an unwanted childEdit

Template:See also

Children whose parents did not want to have a child are more likely to grow to be delinquents or commit crimes.[2] Such children are also less likely to succeed in school, and are more likely to live in poverty.[2] They also tend to have lower mother-child relationship quality.[8] Children whose births were unintended are likely to be less mentally and physically healthy during childhood.[9]

Biosocial criminologyEdit

Wikipedia:Biosocial criminology is an Wikipedia:interdisciplinary field that aims to explain crime and antisocial behavior by exploring both biological factors and environmental factors. While contemporary criminology has been dominated by Wikipedia:sociological theories, biosocial criminology also recognizes the potential contributions of fields such as Wikipedia:genetics, Wikipedia:neuropsychology, and Wikipedia:evolutionary psychology.[10]

See alsoEdit


Wikipedia:Category:Behavioural sciences Wikipedia:Category:Criminology Wikipedia:Category:Forensic psychology Wikipedia:Category:Social sciences

Wikipedia:Category:Cognitive science

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