William Barr, William Scott Dwyer, and Patrick Fagan all agree that poverty is not a cause of crime (5; ÒPart 2Ó, 1; 3). Poverty does not directly cause crime; instead, it is a factor in the cause but, independently, it is not the root source (Barr 5). During the Great Depression, poverty levels were much higher than they are today, but crime actually declined (Barr 5; Fagan 3). From the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies, income was on the rise and crime moved right along with it (Fagan 3; Dwyer Part 21). In 1990, the income level was much higher than in was in 1903, but the murder rate in 1990 was ten times higher than the murder rate in 1903, which was at 1 per 1000 inhabitants (Dwyer Part 21)
Another argument presented by Barr and Dwyer, inverts the poverty/crime relationship by stating that crime actually causes poverty. One of the premises for this argument focuses on businesses and how crime deters potential employers from establishing them (Barr 2; Dwyer ÒCrime and Poverty, Part 1Ó). One reason for this is that crime against a business reduces revenue, raising prices in impoverished neighborhoods because merchants have to make up for any losses caused by theft. These high prices also suppress the standard of living in the community, as the income in the community cannot keep pace with the rise in prices. Blacks living in high crime areas suffer from poverty because they pay higher prices for food and other goods than do whites in neighborhoods with less crime (Dwyer ÒCrime and
Poverty, Part 1Ó). Crime also decreases the likelihood that an area sees improvement; Barr describes a Òsmall contractor who tried to rehabilitate inner-city housing for low income tenants. He had to give up because drug addicts would break in, rip out his improvements, and sell them for drug moneyÓ (2).