The link between poverty, unemployment and economic downturns and increases in crime rates has long been the subject of social science study. However, the relationships between these phenomena has not been studied sufficiently and through time in most European countries that suffered, or, like Greece, are still suffering the recent financial crisis. We examined if the recent financial crisis in Greece has coincided with an increase in crime, analyzing crime rates since the start of the financial crisis and over an extensive time period (7 years). Crime statistics were taken from the Greek Police. Repeated measures analyses of variance were performed to reveal potential differences in criminality for the years 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. There was a significant increase in global criminality rate per 100,000 residents (Wilks’ Lambda=0.32, F (3,11)=7.93, p=0.004). There was a significant increase in illegal gun possession (Wilks’ Lambda=0.16, F (3,11)=18.68, p=0.001), fraud (Wilks’ Lambda=0.10, F (3,11)=32.35, p=0.001), extortion (Wilks’ Lambda=0.38, F (3,11)=4.45, p=0.040), and beggary (Wilks’ Lambda=0.33, F (3,11)=6.22, p=0.014). A reversed U shape was found for homicides, thefts and robberies, with rates peaking in 2010 and 2012 before dropping off in 2014. Narcotics and sexual exploitation crime rates remained unchanged. Surprisingly, the incidence of rape decreased (Wilks’ Lambda=0.42, F (3,11)=5.14, p=0.018). Our results are in agreement with the results of previous broader studies as well as with criminological theories according to which in times of economic stress an increase in both property crimes and violent crimes is expected. As predicted, an increase in financial crime was observed (e.g. fraud and extortions) as well as petty crime related to financial hardship like beggary. Concerns regarding the escalation of white-collar crimes in times of economic downturns that have been raised in the literature warrant further investigation.

Key words: Criminality, financial crisis, poverty, unemployment, Greece.

G. Tsouvelas, G. Konstantakopoulos, A. Vakirtzis, O. Giotakos, T. Papaslanis, V. Kontaxakis (page 19)

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