By Jan van Dijk, Paul Nieuwbeerta, Jacqueline Joudo Larsen
This article explores the merits of commercially-based survey data on crime through cross-validation with established crime metrics.
Using unpublished data from 166 countries covering the period between 2006 and 2019, the article describes the geographical distribution across global regions and trends over time of three types of common crime, homicide, and organised crime. The article then explores possible determinants of the geographical distributions through regressing prevalence rates against indices of poverty, inequality, proportion of youth, presence of criminal opportunities (wealth and urbanisation), and governance/rule of law.
The results show that African and Latin American countries suffer from the highest levels of various types of crime across the board, followed by countries in Asia. European, North American and Australian countries experience intermediate or relatively low levels of most types of crime. Levels of common crime have dropped or stabilized globally except in Africa where they went up. Homicides have fallen almost universally. Trends in organised crime are diverging.
Dimensions of governance emerged as powerful determinants of levels of all types of crime. Important determinants of common crime besides governance were poverty, inequality, and proportion of youth. To some extent changes in these same characteristics of countries were found to be correlated with changes in levels of crime over the past fifteen years. The article concludes with a discussion of the study’s limitations and suggestions for further research. »