Is Poverty the Most Common Cause of Crime?

While criminals can be from all walks of life, research shows that there is a defining feature common among most criminals. The majority of people who are convicted of misdemeanors and even felonies are from poor backgrounds. In fact, prisons are disproportionately populated by poor, black and undereducated individuals.

This begs the question: is poverty the most common cause of crime? After all, it stands to reason that someone with a cushy job and lots of money is less likely to feel the need to steal a car or rob a gas station. In the same way that someone who can afford a brand-new iPhone doesn’t need to shop for affordable cellphone plans, they don’t need to commit crimes to make ends meet.

This isn’t to say that all criminals should be forgiven if they’re poor, but it is to say that a fundamental change to the systematic oppression of working-class people would go a long way to addressing nearly all forms of “street crime.” It would also cost less than putting a uniformed cop on every corner and a black kid in every jail cell for minor drug offenses.