‘These results suggest other important factors are at work, including the psychological effects of job loss’
Involuntary job loss, as a result of broader economic and financial disruptions, can also cause a dramatic increase in criminal behaviour, according to research by an economist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Workers who lose their jobs because of economic disruptions experience a 20-per-cent increase in criminal charges a year after being laid off, and a 60 per cent jump in property crimes, according to a new study.
These people also experience a decrease in earnings by 10 to 15 per cent in the immediate years following displacement, a substantial increase in the likelihood of remaining unemployed or working less than full-time, and a dramatic increase in non-property crimes – such as violent and serious traffic offenses, drug or alcohol-related acts – committed on weekdays.
“The old adage that idle hands are the devil’s workshop appears to have some truth to it,” says Mark Votruba, co-author of the study and an associate professor of economics in the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve. “This unfortunate link (to weekday crimes) highlights the importance of psychological factors – such as mental distress, self-control, financial concerns and frustration – in determining counterproductive behavior.”
The research analyzed the data of more than one million laid-off Norwegian workers, ages 18 to 40, of which nearly 84,000 experienced an involuntary job loss.
“The criminal response is not just about workers’ replacing lost income. These results suggest other important factors are at work, including the psychological effects of job loss,” says Votruba.
Amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, some Canadian employers have vowed to continue to compensate and protect their workers.