Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

Degree Name


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Professor Jo Ann Smith


This study was conducted to determine that most crimes are in some way economically motivated. Accordingly, data which may help to form some tentative conclusions concerning the frequency that regards most criminal behaviors in some way as economically motivated- that is, the criminal's basic motivation is related to income and thus to his standard of living. When supported by data and information derived from the study, conclusions and possible recommendations are offered, aimed at possible solutions, or processes for encouraging society to make an economic commitment to the problem of crime.

This study had its origin several months ago in the numerous concerns expressed in law enforcement meetings and in the literature concerning the fact that a large percentage of criminal behavior is related to poverty and low economic status.

The specific objectives that governed the conduct of this study have included: (1) The gathering of data from arrests as reported by the Atlanta Bureau of Police Services; from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports; and from research studies on arrests as reported by the police of other cities. {2) The development of research data into statistical materials to be reported in the paper. (3) The use of census tracts for possible data concerning crime in specific areas. The primary output is a set of findings, conclusions, and recommendations looking to find out why most crimes are economically motivated. This study endeavored to test several hypotheses, which are frequently used in studies of the relationship between crime and economic conditions, by examining information from research studies of the FBI Uniform Crime Report and local information gathered in Atlanta.

Based on the results of the study, the following conclusions were drawn:

{1) Crime is associated with areas of poverty. (2) Criminal behavior is related to economic conditions. (3) Poverty effects crime and criminality as it determines association with criminal behavior patterns or isolation from anti-criminal behavior patterns. The following delimitations were made: (1) The data used were based on data gathered locally from Atlanta census tract. (2) The data used were also based on data done in research studies of other cities. (3) The data used from the FBI Uniform Crime Report were used accordingly to the need of this study. (4) The u. s. Bureau of Census 1970 medium income scale was utilized in this study. Research data from the 1980 census report medium income was not available at the time the research data was obtained for the city of Atlanta.


Economics is basically the solution for economically motivated crime. Therefore, we must adhere to the economic approaches to crime prevention. The number of economically motivated crimes depends on the social costs and benefits to the criminal. Crime prevention programs can be viewed as attempts to increase the social costs and reduce the resulting net social benefits incurred by the individual from criminal acts. Employment programs are highly recommended as crime deterrents. However, increasing the opportunities and income that an individual can obtain from legal employment can result in a reduction of crime. Thus, build an economy of full employment and genuine income redistribution so that all citizens who want to work are able to find jobs and everyone, regardless of the ability to work, has the resources to live decently without illegal sanctions.

This full employment and genuine income redistribution concept will prevent the "economic retention level" of the low-income class, which represents a large percentage of the economically-motivated crimes.

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