The relationship between crime and income inequality is a complex and controversial issue. While there is some consensus that a relationship exists, the nature of it is still the subject of much debate. In this paper, this relationship is investigated in the context of urban geography and whether income inequality can explain the geography of crime within cities. This question is examined for the specific case of residential burglaries in the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where I tested how much burglary rates are affected by local average household income and by local exposure to poverty, while I controlled for other variables relevant to criminological theory, such as land-use type, density and accessibility. Different scales were considered for testing the effect of exposure to poverty. This study reveals that, in Belo Horizonte, the rate of burglaries per single family house is significantly and positively related to income level, but a higher exposure to poverty has no significant independent effect on these rates at any scale tested. The rate of burglaries per apartment, on the other hand, is not significantly affected by either average household income or exposure to poverty. These results seem consistent with a description where burglaries follow a geographical distribution based on opportunity, rather than being a product of localized income disparity and higher exposure between different economic groups.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited