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The victimful-victimless crime distinction, and seven universal demographic correlates of victimful criminal behavior

Personality and Individual Differences
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0191-8869(88)90151-1


Abstract A distinction is drawn between crimes that victimize fellow social group members (victimful crimes) and ones that do not (victimless crimes). With this victimizing distinction and crime seriousness in mind, studies are reviewed which have correlated various demographic variables with criminal behavior. Results revealed that there are at least seven demographic variables that universally correlate with serious victimful criminal behavior. The nature of these universal correlates are as follows: (1) Persons who come from families in which parents are no longer living together are more likely to engage in serious victimful crimes that persons from maritally intact families. (2) Persons who come from families with large numbers of siblings commit more serious victimful crimes than those from small families. (3) Blacks have higher serious victimful crime rates than whites, and whites in turn have higher rates than persons of Oriental racial ancestry. (4) Using a variety of indices, individuals of low social status exhibit higher probabilities of serious victimful crimes than individuals of middle and high social status. (5) Persons reared in urban areas commit more serious victimful crimes than those reared in suburban, and especially rural areas. (6) Serious victimful criminal behavior is most likely during the second and third decades of life. (7) Males are more likely to commit serious victimful crimes than females. While none of these universal correlates of victimful criminal behavior denote direct causal influences, theories are needed which predict the essential nature of their relationships to serious criminal behavior and to one another.

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