Victimization rates for personal property theft and property-related household crimes lower for those from low-income households1, 2
Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.
In contrast to their higher rates of violent victimization, Canadians living in low-income households were less likely to be the victims of personal property theft and property-related household crimes.
In a personal theft, personal property such as money, credit cards, clothing, jewellery, a purse or wallet are stolen. However, unlike robbery, the thief does not confront the victim in a personal theft. The rate of personal property theft was lowest among those with household incomes under $15,000 and highest among those with household incomes over $60,000 (71 compared to 116 incidents per 1,000 population) (Table 2).
For property-related household crimes, rates of victimization varied by household income level.3 Low-income households experienced property crimes such as motor vehicle theft, household theft and vandalism at rates that were nearly half those of the highest household income group (Chart 2). This pattern, similar to that found in the 1999 GSS, was largely true for three of the four property crimes measured on the 2004 GSS, with the exception of break and enters; for these offences, rates were relatively similar across all income categories (Table 2).
Given that household property crimes typically involve theft of or damage to victims' property, it is not unexpected that income would be a relevant factor in the risk of victimization for this type of crime. Income can determine the quantity and quality of property owned, making those with higher incomes more attractive targets for property-related crimes (Thacher, 2004; Clotfelter, 1977; Becker, 1968). Nevertheless, previous GSS-based research suggests that a number of other factors, in addition to household income, are related to the likelihood of being targeted for a household crime. These factors, including residential stability, familiarity with one's neighbours, the dwelling-type, the location of the home, the number of people living in the household, as well as household income, all have been linked to the risk of household victimization (Gannon and Mihorean, 2005).
Even after taking other such factors (i.e., household size, length of residency, urban or rural location, quality of relationship with neighbours and perceptions of neighbourhood crime) into account, low-income households were still less likely to be the victims of a household property-crime. Taking all other factors into account, having a household income under $15,000 decreased the odds4 of household victimization by 38%, compared to having a higher household income (see Text box 4 "Determining the independent effect of household income on the risk of household victimization" for more details).
While low income reduced the odds of household victimization, many other factors raised the odds.5 For example, the odds of being the victim of a household crime were greater among people who considered their neighbours to be generally unhelpful and among those who believed that they live in high crime neighbourhoods, are dissatisfied with their personal safety and those fearful of crime. Living in a semi-detached unit as opposed to some other dwelling-type, urban rather than rural residency and a length of residence under a year also increased the odds of being victimized. Additionally, the odds of victimization rose with the number of individuals living in the household.
Text box 4
Determining the independent effect of household income on the risk of household victimization
To determine the independent effect of household income, along with other selected variables, on the risk of household victimization, a multivariate analysis using logistic regression was conducted. In addition to household income, the regression model employed controlled for the effects of household size, length of residency, type of dwelling, urban or rural location, quality of relationship with neighbours (i.e., perceptions of living in a neighbourhood with helpful neighbours), perceptions of neighbourhood crime, satisfaction of with personal safety and fear of crime (i.e., fear of staying home alone at night).
There is no statistically significant difference between individuals from households with incomes of $15,000 to $29,999 versus $30,000 to $39,999 or between individuals from households with incomes of $30,000 to $39,999 versus $40,000 to $59,999. All other household income group differences are statistically significant.
An odds ratio is used to assess whether, other things being equal, low-income households are more or less likely to be the victim of a household property crime compared to higher income households, referred to as the reference category. An odds ratio less than 1.0 indicates that the sub-group's odds of victimization are lower than those of the reference group. For more information on odds ratios, see Text box 2 "Determining the independent effect of household income on the risk of violent victimization".
- For more information on odds ratios, see Text box 2 "Determining the independent effect of household income on the risk of violent victimization".