n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Poor, young and unmarried : men and crime in South Africa

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Poverty and inequality may only be a partial, and even minor, explanation for South Africa's relative high rates of crime. The latter may, in part, be due to male intrasexual competition in a country where there is a large proportion of younger persons (within the prime reproductive age) and single males in the population. Moreover, the interaction of these factors with environmental conditions such as a stratified community, lower the life expectancy and marital instability, would tend to raise crime rates. To test the significance of these predictions panel data covering the period 1996 to 2000 across all nine of South Africa's provinces, was used to fit a dynamic panel data regression model of the determinants of five major types of serious crime, using the Generalized Method of Moments (GMM) estimator proposed by Arellano and Bond. It was found that once the proportion of the population who falls within the prime reproductive age has been controlled, poverty, income and inequality do not turn out to be as robustly significant in determining crime in South Africa, as in some other studies. The variable with the most significant effect on crime was found to be the proportion of young persons in a province's population. Amongst the more traditional variables, only educational status and police per population (deterrence) remained overall significant in determining (lowering) crime levels.


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