The degree of income inequality in Sweden has varied substantially since the 1970s. This study analyzes whether this variation has affected the crime rate using a panel of Swedish county-level data for the period 1973–2000. We consider various measures of income inequality to evaluate which part of the distribution that matters most in determining crime rates. Our results indicate that there is a statistically significant positive effect of the proportion of the population with an income below 10 percent of median income on the incidence of property crime. Moreover, the unemployment rate has a positive effect on the incidence of the number of overall crime, auto thefts and robberies. The results look different for the violent crime category assault.
Keywords: crime, income inequality, panel data
JEL classification: D31, I32, J00, K40