Inequality and crime: separating the effects of permanent and transitory income

Author: Matz Dahlberg, And Magnus Gustavsson, And

Published in: Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics 2008, vol. 70, no. 2, pp. 129–153

Summary of Working paper 2005:19

Earlier studies on income inequality and crime have typically used total income or total earnings. However, it is quite likely that it is changes in permanent rather than in transitory income that affects crime rates. The purpose of this paper is therefore to disentangle the two effects by, first, estimating region-specific inequality in permanent and transitory income and, second, estimating crime equations with the two separate income components as explanatory variables. The results indicate that it is important to separate the two effects; while an increase in the inequality in permanent income yields a positive and significant effect on total crimes and three different property crimes, an increase in the inequality in transitory income has no significant effect on any type of crime. Using a traditional, aggregate, measure of income yields mainly insignificant effects on crime.