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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 93702 Find in a Library
Title: Crime and Societal Change - A Study of Twentieth-Century Australia
Journal: South African Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology  Volume:6  Issue:3  Dated:(1982)  Pages:262-277
Author(s): S K Mukherjee
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 16
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: South Africa
Annotation: This analysis of relationships between crime and socioeconomic change in 20th century Australia suggests that simple correlational studies spanning long periods are of limited use, whereas examinations of different historical periods show increasing or declining trends for several years followed by reverse trends.
Abstract: The study identified seven distinct historical periods: l900 to l907, l908 to l9l2, l9l3 to l927, l928 to l937, l938 to l949, l950 to l965, and l966 to l976. For the entire period, violent offenses showed a high positive correlation only with the number of automobilies registered and the size of the police force. Property offenses were highly correlated with population, urbanization, gross national product, number of automobiles registered, and police expenditures. Relations between both offense types and unemployment were weak. However, analysis of the seven historical sets did not reveal any simple linear trend throughout the century, but showed fluctuations from set to set which were sometimes extraordinary. Apart from the unemployment rate, some of the largest movements occurred after World War II. Violent offenses demonstrated a declining trend up to l937 and an increasing trend therafter. Property offenses decreased up to l9l3, increased up to l936, declined to l948, increased to l973, and decreased thereafter. These results suggest that a gradually growing economy and world wars have dampening effects on property crimes, whereas economic setbacks produce sharp increases in such crime. Violent offenses did not appear sensitive to socioeconomic changes, but were positively associated with police strength. In summary, the study could not identify any regularity or periodicity in the 77 years' data, but instead found that fluctuations were associated with socioeconomic environments. The author compares these data with U.S. arrest statistics on personal and property crime for the period l933-76. Tables are included.
Index Term(s): Australia; Crime patterns; Socioeconomic development
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