September 17, 2020

Determinants Of Crime Rate In India : Econometric Study

What crime actually is? : Crime is an unlawful, unacceptable act which is punishable by the state or other authority. Even though there is no proper universally accepted definition for crime, statutory definitions are provided. Different countries state different acts as criminal offence. Crime is a category distinguished by the law, which when committed, may harm not only an individual but also the society, or a state, or the entire country. These acts are forbidden and punishable by the law. Criminal offence is differently defined by the criminal law of each country. But the prohibition of acts such as murder, rape, theft etc is a notion which exists worldwide. While many have a catalogue of crimes called the criminal code, in some common law countries no such comprehensive statute exists. In India, crime exists in various forms. For example, under the category of crime against women, there lies sub-categories like rape, dowry, domestic violence. As a nation which is still developing, a major part of the population is below poverty line. Most of these crimes against women are seen taking place in these households and also in the rural parts of India. There are also crimes like illegal drug trade where illicit drugs are cultivated which affects the health of individuals and destroys the economic structure of families and societies. This crime connects heavily with corruption and money laundering. Arms trafficking is also a very well-known crime in India. Possession of illegal weapons is very dangerous and a criminal offence. The access to these weapons illegally boosts terrorism, murders and other such foul play. Corruption, another category of crime, is widespread in India, especially in Indian politics. It is prevalent in every section and every level of the society. Corruption takes the form of bribes, evasion of tax and exchange controls, embezzlement, etc. Police misconducts like torture is also widespread in India where the police torture people until a favourable confession is obtained. It is a major reason behind deaths in custody. Other crimes include poaching and wildlife trafficking, cybercrime and petty crimes like pickpocketing etc. Studies have shown that there are numerous reasons which make an individual commit criminal offence. Some of these reasons are poverty, peer pressure, drugs, politics, family conditions, religion, unemployment, deprivation etc. It is very difficult to explain or find the cause for each crime, the related physical abnormalities and psychological disorders. While every crime violates the law, not every violation of the law counts as a crime. Analysis of crimes and the factors responsible for crime activities along with the criminals’ behaviour has been the subject matter of sociologists, criminologists, and in recent times the economists. Academics from different range of sectors like psychology, criminology, sociology, geography and economics have made wide ranging analyses to understand the sociopsychological dimensions of criminal behavior, patterns of crime and its geographical distributions. However, all such approaches to study of crimes are not in isolated and watertight compartments. In fact, the different issues which are raised frequently in such discussions in reference to explanation of crime and criminal behavior also interact and intersect with one another directly or indirectly. The researchers provide various theories and studies which attempts to explain the determinants of crime. Theories of crime differs from developed to developing countries. Studies done in developed countries have rarely been taken in developing countries.
Data: Data on 20 states for the time period 2014-2017 is used in this study. Data for the factors affecting the crime rate that are considered in this paper are taken from the RBI Handbook of Statistics. National crime record data (total no. of cases) for all the states over the required time period is used for the crime variable. Empirical testing is limited to 20 states as per the availability of data for the same time period. To determine the relationship between crime rate and determinants, the most commonly preferred tool is the statistical technique of multiple regression analysis.
Results: The estimated coefficient of literacy rate indicates the expected negative sign of literacy rate on the crime activities. States with people who have low literacy skills tend to be less active citizens than other people. They are less likely to get involved in community activities like sports, school groups, church groups, and so on. As a result, they often feel isolated and vulnerable, and many of them feel like outcasts. This may partly explain why states who have low literacy are statistically more likely to be involved in crime – either as the offender or the victim. Also, it is found out that this variable is statistically significant in the present study, pouring out a strong influence of literacy rates on the crime level. The estimated coefficient sign of sex ratio shows that increase in the number of females to that of 1000 males at a state level cause a positive influence on the crime rates, (in a way it brings a rise in crime activities). With various studies done in the past, some of them proved that the sex ratio and crime rates have a positive relationship while some of them proved it to have an inverse relationship. The increase in sex ratio may cause an increase in gender-based violence or crime against women which overall brings about the positive change in total crime. Although the variable is not statistically significant suggesting an almost no effect of sex ratio on the crime rates. The Per capita Net state domestic product (NSDP) variable is showing a positive sign and is quite statistically significant. The sign of the coefficient of squared term of per capita NSDP is proving that after a certain level of income this effect will convert into a negative one. That certain level comes out to be maxima at per capita NSDP equals to Rs. 38,177. This suggests that crime is following an inverted U-shaped pattern, first increasing and then decreasing after reaching a maximum. The results are consistent with the arguments that good economies tend to create more crime and vice versa. It is suggesting that government should also focus on employment opportunities, a minimum sufficient wage rate along with the economic growth. After reaching a certain high level of income, when an increase in economic growth adds to more and more job opportunities, strict institutional mechanisms then it may lead to fall in the overall total crime.
Conclusion: This study has determined the strength and impact of different determinants on crime in 20 states during the time period 2014-2017. Also, it has reviewed the relevant literatures which explained the different definitions and approaches to study of crimes’ determinants and based its analysis on the approach by which criminal behavior is assumed as a rational choice. The results of this econometric analysis show that those states with higher literacy rates are less prone to crime activities. It shows the significant impact of literacy rate on the national crime. A large percentage of children and juveniles who desert school have increased possibilities to participate in teen or adult gangs that engage in various types of illicit criminal activities. Young teenagers who desert school to find their way back to the academic community or to professional education should be given second chances by the state. They can therefore get a chance to live their normal lives again, away from gangs and illicit activities. Sex ratio has no statistically significant impact on the number of crime cases in the states. The empirical result shows that the variation in dependent variable national crime cannot be statistically explained by sex ratio. It is seen in the present study that economic growth/per capita income has two ways by which it affects the crime situation in the state, the first being the effect that increased economic activity would mean an improvement in the wealth of the people of the state and thus increases the incentive and benefit from a crime. The second effect is that growth in economy would lead to more creation of more employment opportunity, therefore negatively affecting the decision to commit crime. By looking at these two opposite forces it is concluded that increase in economic activity would lead to reduction in crime only when this economic activity brings employment creation. Our study also supports the theory of “The Crime Kuznets Curve” given by Paolo and Fergusson (Dec. 2014) Our econometric analysis needs to deepen even more, estimating the results of the relative contributions of other explanatory variables to observed crime rates as well. Changes in crime in relation to the changes in the values of other corresponding explanatory variables, except those we analyzed in the present paper, could serve as useful indicators for widening anticrime policies that are currently followed. By this, the authorities that are designated with the formation of the anticrime policies will be provided with useful tools for completing their mission successfully to eradicate such cases of unlawful act or felonies.
(The author is pursuing Masters in Financial Economics at Madras School of Economics, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Views are his own ) [email protected]

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