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Exploring Crime Patterns in Canada
By Valerie Pottie Bunge and Holly Johnson (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics) and Thierno A. Baldé (Time Series Research and Analysis Centre), Statistics Canada
This research paper provides an overview of patterns in crime data between 1962 and 2003, with a particular focus on the decline in recorded crime throughout the 1990s. This paper also explores the statistical relationship between selected crime patterns (homicide, robbery, break and enter and motor vehicle theft) and various macro-level demographic and economic changes. Analysis is based on police-reported crime data from the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, Consumer Price Index, Labour Force Survey and institution data on the control and sale of alcoholic beverages in Canada.
In general, bivariate results indicate that throughout the 1990s the greatest gains in reducing crime rates were made in property crimes, especially among young offenders. Significant declines were also noted for robberies and homicides involving firearms as well as homicides overall.
Multivariate results indicate that, at the macro-level, different types of crime are influenced by different social and economic factors. Specifically, shifts in inflation were found to be associated with changes in the level of all financially motivated crimes examined (robbery, break and enter, motor vehicle theft). Shifts in the age composition of the population, on the other hand, were found to be correlated with shifts in rates of break and enter and were not statistically significant for the other types of crimes studied. Finally, shifts in alcohol consumption and unemployment rates were found to be correlated with shifts in homicide rates.
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