Crime and the minimum wage

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According to Eriksson and Mazerolle (2013), strain refers to conditions and events that are disked by individuals. Such conditions and events often involve the inability of individuals to accomplish their goals. According to the General Strain Theory, strains often lead to a crime under four conditions (Agnew, 2001). The conditions include when strains are considered unjust, of high magnitude, linked to low communal control or motivate people for criminal coping. As Beauchamp and Chan (2014) assert, the inability of an individual to achieve his/her financial goals is one of the distinct strains that possible lead to crime. Besides, living in high poverty and low opportunity areas may significantly drive individuals to resort to crime. Such is because individuals in these areas lack other feasible and viable alternatives to support both their families and themselves. Based on such, I believe that raising the minimum wage could reduce the level of crime rates.

A basic living wage among other factors such as education and job opportunities are instrumental in the struggle to reduce crime rates (Beauchamp & Chan, 2014). In particular, paying higher wages and salaries to low-skilled works would reduce not only violent and property crime but also criminal activities among adolescents. With high incomes, individuals can afford to meet all their basic needs and as such tend not to turn to crime a viable alternative for livelihood. Also, work within the formal sector is more sustainable with an increase in the minimum wage per hour thus reducing the level of crime rates (Beauchamp & Chan, 2014).

As an alternative to mass incarceration, a rise in minimum wage will reduce the number of youths and workers who cannot secure jobs because of minor criminal records. As Beauchamp and Chan (2014) assert, it appears almost impossible for workers with such records to secure any employment opportunities or well-paying jobs thus paving the way for crime as an alternative source of livelihood. Also, these workers encounter employer discrimination and face laws preventing them from a host of professions and trades unnecessarily. Moreover, they are barred from participating in educational and training opportunities that would otherwise help them achieve their goals at the workplace (Beauchamp & Chan, 2012). Even if these individuals are lucky enough to secure a job, most probably, they secure low quality and low-paying jobs that do not make them meet all their basic needs. When wages fail to pay enough to support their families or getting jobs becomes difficult, effective reentry can be difficult thus paving a pathway to re-incarceration (Beauchamp & Chan, 2014).

Moreover, raising the minimum wage is a critical step toward refining draconian sentencing laws, improving rehabilitation in prisons and jails and smoothing a pathway to effective reentry. The move will cut the cost incurred on the criminal justice system which includes costs associated with incarceration, enforcement, and judicial system. Other than boosting economic security and stimulating economic activity for struggling families, improves public safety and reduces incarceration as well as re-incarceration incarceration (Beauchamp & Chan, 2014). Besides, it improves public safety and saves taxpayer money. Based on such, policies and push for raising the minimum wage particularly for the low-paid workers come with additional benefits other than economic.

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  1. Agnew, R. (2001). Building on the foundation of general strain theory: Specifying the types of strain most likely to lead to crime and delinquency. Journal of research in crime and delinquency38(4), 319-361.
  2. Beauchamp, A., & Chan, S. (2012). Crime and the Minimum Wage. Bc. edu.
  3. Beauchamp, A., & Chan, S. (2014). The Minimum Wage and Crime. The BE Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy14(3), 1213-1235. Retrieved from:
  4. Eriksson, L., & Mazerolle, P. (2013). A general strain theory of intimate partner homicide. Aggression and violent behavior18(5), 462-470.
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