This thesis contains five studies that in different ways investigate poverty and the relation between poverty and exposure to crime. The basis of the thesis has been the question of how poverty is related to other welfare problems such as unemployment and health problems, focusing on exposure to crime and fear of crime. The thesis also has a comparative element. In one article, the conditions in Britain, Finland and Sweden are compared, and two articles compare conditions in Britain and Sweden.
Poverty has been measured as relative deprivation. This is done by measuring consumption of socially perceived necessities, both goods and activities. For poverty to be at hand, not consuming some of the goods or not engaging in some of the activities must be a consequence of lack of economic resources, not of personal preference. The relation between poverty and exposure to crime has been understood from an interactionist perspective, where the possible interaction between and intersection of potential offender and potential victim constitute the determinant factor for the risk of being exposed to crime. In this perspective, the poor are more exposed because their situation of being poor places them in situations where the risks of being exposed are high. Fear of crime stems from different sources. The significance of earlier victimization, the characteristics of the geographical unit where one lives and vulnerability in the event of actual exposure have been investigated.
It was found that poverty measured as relative deprivation is related to other welfare problems, primarily other economic problems, unemployment, health impairments, anxiety, sleeping problems and headaches. But it was also found that poverty is related to exposure to crime and fear of crime. Furthermore, poverty based on an income measure did not correlate especially well with other welfare problems. It was also found that the extent of poverty measured as relative deprivation is equal in Britain and Sweden, while it is more extensive in Finland. This result contradicts earlier studies based on income measurements of poverty, which show that poverty is about equally common in Sweden and Finland and more extensive in Britain. It was found that the reason why relative deprivation is more extensive in Finland is that the level of unemployment is higher there and that the unemployed are worse off in Finland than in Britain and Sweden.
Regarding the relation between poverty and exposure to property crime, it was found that the poor are more exposed than are the non-poor with regard to the property crime that violates personal integrity most: property crime related to the residence. Exposure to crime was found to be more of a poverty problem in Sweden than in Britain. Because crime rates are about equal in Britain and Sweden, the result indicates that the risk of being exposed to crime in Britain is more equally distributed across the population. Furthermore, it was found that fear of crime in Sweden is related to poverty, while fear of crime in Britain is more related to vulnerability in general, particularly vulnerability on the labour market. One reason for this may be that fear of crime is more common in Britain than in Sweden. Fear of crime may be such a general problem in Britain that the poor cannot be differentiated from the non-poor.
Umeå: Sociologi, 2006. 208 p.
2006-10-06, hörsal g, humanishuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (English)