The overwhelming evidence of a positive relationship between poverty and crime has generated considerable attention from criminologists, economists, sociologists, and policymakers. But this relationship is not as straightforward as it might seem. Understanding crime is critical for addressing urban problems, so this article examines trends in and correlation between poverty and homicides. Although homicides are clearly concentrated in poor neighborhoods, poverty and homicides are negatively correlated at the metropolitan level over the period 1989 to 2021. Nonetheless, the concentration of poverty and crime in specific areas within the MSAs provide opportunities for lawmakers and policymakers to effectively craft policies and target resources.
This article appeared in the Fourth Quarter 2023 issue of Economic Insights. Download and read the full issue.