Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Paul C. Friday

Second Advisor

Dr. Lewis Walker

Third Advisor

Dr. Susan Caringella-MacDonald

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Sesay Asefa


The study examines the extent to which social and economic development might be related to crime. Modernization theory of crime posits that the process of social and economic development involves changes in the society which are criminogenic. These changes include: urbanization, industrialization, longevity or increased life expectancy, increased manufacturing and gross domestic products. According to this theory these characteristics alter social tendencies to stability and conformity, and therefore result in increased deviance and crime.

This study tests the theory by using longitudinal data collected over a 25-year period from 54 countries. A sample of these data representing 34 countries from 6 regions of the world is analyzed to test the various hypotheses that the above changes are causally related to crime in general and to the specific crimes of theft, homicide and fraud.

The study found that though there appears to be a strong correlation between development and crime, this relationship is not consistent throughout the regions and countries studied. The rate of increase in crime does not seem to be consistent with the rate of development. In areas like Asia, development may have actually contributed to the decrease in crime.

The conclusions from the study are that though there appears to be a correlation between development and crime this relationship seems to differ from one region to another. This suggests that some cultural and regional factors may contribute to the relationship. The fact that there is actually a negative relationship between the two in other regions also means that development can actually help in reducing the incidence and rates of crime.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access