Changes in the Gender Gap in Crime and Women's Economic Marginalization
The author analyzes Uniform Crime Reports data on the gender gap in offending from 1960 to 1997 and concludes that there has been an appreciable narrowing of the gap over this period in both property and violent offenses. The article then assesses the evidence in the criminological literature regarding the possible reasons for these changes, including the economic marginalization hypothesis. The chapter then reviews evidence from demographic and economic research regarding the increasing marginalization of women and concludes that changes in the gender gap in crime are consistent with the findings of this research. The author proposes avenues for extending and refining the economic marginalization perspective. One avenue that research must pursue is the development of statistical tests of the contributions of the various demographic and economic trends bearing on the economic marginalization of women and the gender ratio of crime, including increases in the prevalence of female-headed households, the gender gap in wages, increases in income dispersion, and increases in the unemployment of female heads of households. A second avenue for research is the elaboration of the theoretical basis of the economic marginalization thesis by showing how the demographic and economic factors that create women's marginalization influence the group-level and individual-level mechanisms that contribute to gender differences in offending.