Social & Education Policy

Violence and Economic Conditions in the United States, 1973-2011: Gender, Race, and Ethnicity Patterns in the National Crime Victimization Survey

Lauritsen, J.L.; Rezey, M.L.; Heimer, K.


To more fully understand how economic conditions and the latest economic downturn might be associated with rates of violence, this research examines a variety of economic indicators and their relationships to subgroup rates of violence overall and by victim–offender relationship. We find that the recent recession of 2007 to 2009 has not produced significant increases in victimization for any of the groups or violence types analyzed here. We also find that several economic indicators are associated with violence during the 1973 to 2000 period, yet these same factors fail to be significantly correlated with the trends from 2001 to 2011. This suggests that historical conditions unique to the more recent period are moderating the relationships between trends in the macroeconomy and violence, and that future research should focus on developing and modeling indicators of various potential moderating influences. We also caution, however, that this recent change in the association between the economy and the violence is based on the data from a relatively few number of years and may not continue into the future.