Trends in the Gender Gap in Criminal Offending

Males commit much more crime than females. This is a truism in criminology. There has been controversy, however, about whether the gender gap or gender difference between female and male offending has declined over time. Public Policy Center researchers took two approaches to examining this issue.

In the first, they examined the declining gender gap in arrests for all Part I Index Offenses using the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and linked these changes to changes in women’s economic circumstances and welfare provisions over time. The second approach involved conducting analyses of victims' reports of the gender of their assailant using the National Crime Victimization Survey. These data are free from the bias that can affect police decision-making.

Professor Karen Heimer's research results indicate that there is evidence from both official (UCR) and victimization data (NCVS) that the gap between female and male offending has declined somewhat over recent decades.