There is a belief that poverty breeds crime and if a country wants to reduce its crime rate it must first reduce its unemployment rate. Jamaica seems to be disproving this belief, however. According to Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, Jamaica’s unemployment rate is at its lowest in the history of the country at 7.8% but despite the low unemployment rate, the island’s crime rate especially for murder is at the highest it has ever been.
So why is it that although almost every Jamaican seeking work is able to find a job yet the crime and murder rate is so high? Could it be that the prime minister is not being honest about the unemployment numbers? Or is it that the unemployment rate is really that low but the people are not really making a living wage? It was said that many Jamaicans, especially those working in the hotel industry are still living in poverty. A Jamaican hotel worker told 18 Karat Reggae that after paying her bus fare to get to work and buying her lunch; she hardly could afford yet. Another question that must be asked is; is poverty really the main cause of crime?
The two are obviously linked. Poor neighborhoods have more crime and give birth to more crime than do more affluent neighborhoods. There is one school of thought, however, that claims a neighborhood is poor for more reasons than just the fact that there are no jobs.
The easy and most common theory is that if a neighborhood is poor the only way for people to survive is to become criminals. When you don’t have money for food or diapers for kids or transportation or any of the other for stuff you need, you will turn to crime to get those things.
People who live outside these pockets of crime have a hard time understanding what happens in those neighborhoods that are rife with anti-social behavior. There is a dynamic.
People use need as the stimulus for crime. People need stuff so they go and steal it.
Maybe instead of boasting about a low unemployment rate, the prime minister needs to come up with a plan of how workers can gain better wages.