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Understanding the relationship between inequalities and poverty: mechanisms associated with crime, the legal system and punitive sanctions
Magali Duque and Abigail McKnight July 2019
Paper No' CASE/215:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: I32; D31; E62; H2

Tags: poverty; inequality; crime; law; punishment; criminal justice; police

This paper outlines the various issues pertaining to how crime, the legal system and punitive sanctions may provide a mechanism through which inequality is positively related to poverty. We analyse trends in crime rates, review evidence on the determinants of criminal activity, trends in incarceration rates and prison populations, and the profile of prisoners. We explore relevant aspects of criminal justice policies, changes to Legal Aid, and legal reforms, and finish by outlining how the evidence suggests that crime, the legal system and punitive sanctions is one of the mechanisms that contributes to the positive link between economic inequality and poverty, before reviewing policy options.