WP 201704 - The Socio-Economic Determinants of Crime in South Africa: an Empirical Assessment

Haroon Bhorat, Adaiah Lilenstein, Jabulile Monnakgotla, Amy Thornton and Kirsten van der Zee

Date of Publication: 
March 2017


South Africa possess some of the highest reported crime statistics in the world, making the study of crime and its determinants of particular interest in this context. Three socio-economic factors can initially be identified as playing an important role in our understanding of the incidence of crime: Unemployment, income levels, and the prevalent level of income inequality. This research uses small area level data from the South African census to derive socio-economic variables and link this to crimes reported by the South African Police Service (SAPS). We briefly discuss the literature surrounding crime and socio-economic indicators, both internationally and in South Africa. We then turn to an overview of the other factors that can influence crime rates, before presenting the classic economic theory of crime in more detail. Finally, we discuss our conceptual approach, which draws on the literature and the economic model to determine what we can expect from the results to follow. 

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