Crime and Poverty: Causes of Crime, Effects of Crime, and Solutions



Crime refers to the contravention of the regulations of behavior set by the society as stipulated and articulated by a legal criminal code made by a group with social and political power ( Husik and Rudolf, 2009). People who go against these rules are liable to punishments by the state machinery plus they could experience societal disgrace and loss of social standing. Poverty on the other hand refers to a sense of deprivation. In this case, two types of poverty can be experienced is absolute poverty whereby an individual cannot provide for his basic needs like food, water, shelter and clothing. Relative poverty refers to a sense of lack whereby one feels deprived of some resources as compared to someone else in a similar society.

This study aims at explaining what crime and poverty are with a view of analyzing the causes of crime using the structural-functionalist theory plus the effects of crime and the measures to be taken to avert this problem.

Causes of crime

Crime has been recognized as the origin and outcome of poverty. This then emerges when there is no development in a country. Structural functionalism is one theory that has been used in crime. According to this theory, society can be compared to an organism which has different parts but performs different functions for the well big of an organism. The same case applies to a society which is made up of different parts that perform different functions for the well being of the society. According to this theory the foundation of a society is based on norms and values which are shared with a focus on social order that is implied linking organizations and groups whereby social change is seen to occur in a slow and logical manner. Structural functionalists argue that change is sometimes essential to ensure that there are no societal dysfunctions; however this has to be slow in order for people and institutions to adapt well without chaos (Babbie, 2008).

Structural functionalism is based on seven premises. These premises are based on various levels of analysis namely community, society, individual and social unit like the family or organizations. One premise is that systems are orderly and have parts that are interdependent hence societies are bound together by cooperation and orderliness. The second premise argues that systems aim at maintaining equilibrium and thus ensuring that societies work greatest when they operate easily as an organism with all parts working toward the smooth running of the structure. Third the systems might be fixed or caught up in a prearranged course of transformation. Fourth the character of the systems could have an effect on the shape that other parts could get. Fifth structures keep boundaries inside their environment whereby the external environments are separate but they adapt to each other. The equivalent dynamics take place in societies when one or more parts considerably clash with others, others must adapt. Sixth allotment and incorporation are essential processes essential for their to be a balance in a system thus allotment of labor and positions aid in maintaining balance; each part interrelate to seal the most significant roles. Lastly systems are inclined in the direction of self- maintenance involving being in command of borders and relations of parts to the entire structure, control of the environment, and organize tendencies to alter the structure from within. Structural functionalism puts focus on a social institution that is the society in its entirety whereby institutions like international organizations are looked at for example labor organizations, NATO and so on. Emphasis is laid on large- scale phenomena and thus it pays little consideration to individual agency and temperament growth. Finally structural functionalists argue that for a society to operate it has to position and inspire individuals to inhabit the necessary positions in the social organization. There are two ways in which the society does this: one the society must inspire desire for individuals to occupy definite positions. Secondly once the right people are in these positions, society must give them the suitable rewards to ensure they accomplish their hard positions. Structural- functionalists are of the view that crime is an essential part of society. Through community anger a legal punishment, many people are familiar with a shared set of ethical course of action and regulation (Babbie, 2008). In the absence of crime a legal system would not be required and shared morals would be absent in the society. A steady rate of crime is a symbol of a fit humanity. When the crime ate is high people lose hope plus unity. When the crime rates are too low people claim that the state is authoritarian as they don’t have the right to distinctiveness plus there are no shared moral guidelines that establish what is wrong and what is right. A poor economic structure will lead to poverty and thus resorting to crime so that people can fend for themselves.

There are various types of crimes ranging from crimes against the person and crimes against property. Crimes against the person include first degree murder whereby an individual takes another person willingly. Voluntary manslaughter is also another example where one kills another person intentionally due to mitigating conditions for example a crime committed in the heat of passion after some provocation. Other crimes against the person include robbery, assault rape and battery. On the other hand crimes against property include burglary, arson and larceny.

Poverty has an effect on the basic needs and rights of people and this is what can be said to bring about the various types of crimes. Due to poverty majority of the populations living under poor conditions where they lack access to quality food, clothing, water plus they have no access to education. According to EU poverty happens to be one of the most critical human rights issue whereby poor people are denied a good number of essential rights (Amnesty International, 2009).

Effects of crime

The most common effect of crime is social disorder that a society experiences when there are high rates of crime. A strain is also put on the tax- payers’ money because part of the tax- payers’ money is used to build prisons for rehabilitating criminals who will be accepted back to the community once they are reformed. A sense of distrust is also another effect of crime since people become fearful due to pain caused by crime.


For crime to be averted good economic system has to be established to ensure that there is absence of high rates of poverty that would drive people to crime. Criminals should be well rehabilitated to ensure that they not revert to crime and that they are well integrated into the society once they have finished their prison terms and are back into the society.

Strengths of this theory

The structural functionalists’ theory is beneficial as it allows one to look at the functions of a system like recruitment, socialization and communication. This theory also allows one to compare systems like the political system, economic systems as well as social system leading us to understand how these systems operates.

Weakness of the theory

Since function is split from one another, employees may have a little perception and worry for areas that they do not have specialization in. Some structures could last yet they are not functional. This theory is also not standardized as societies differ. Different companies may have goals that differ from the goals of the company. Problems are viewed from one angle and thus leading to an isolation of some individuals.


There is a correlation between crime and poverty. Poverty has been identified as one of the causes of crime brought about by social institutions that do not operate as expected. This then leads to inequality whereby a few number of people are rich a large portion of the population are poor who turn to crime in order to survive. Poverty has a bearing on the basic needs and rights of people.


Amnesty International, (2009). The EU and Human Rights International, United Kingdom: Amnesty International, International Secretariat.

Babbie, E., (2008). The practice of Social Research, New York: Cengage Learning.

Husik ,I., and Jhering, R., (2009). Law as a means to an end, New York: BiblioBazaar, LLC.

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LawBirdie. (2023) 'Crime and Poverty: Causes of Crime, Effects of Crime, and Solutions'. 27 March.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Crime and Poverty: Causes of Crime, Effects of Crime, and Solutions." March 27, 2023.

1. LawBirdie. "Crime and Poverty: Causes of Crime, Effects of Crime, and Solutions." March 27, 2023.


LawBirdie. "Crime and Poverty: Causes of Crime, Effects of Crime, and Solutions." March 27, 2023.