Uncovering the Gender Participation Gap in Crime

Nadia Campaniello

Uncovering the Gender Participation Gap in Crime

Abstract

Research on the gender variation in the crime market, a peculiar labor market for illegal activities, is limited, although the issue is relevant per se and for its policy implications. We document a gender gap in criminal activities, based on property and white collar crimes, using data from the U.S. National Incident Based Reporting System. We show that there is a gender participation gap where around 30 percent of the crimes are committed by females. In order to explain, at least in part, the gender participation gap we investigate whether there are di erences in incentives to be involved in criminal activities and in responsiveness to these incentives across gender. In particular we focus on criminal earnings and probability of arrest. We show that on average females earn 18 percent less than males while they face the same likelihood of arrest. We find that females are more responsive to changes in the expected probability of arrest, while males respond more to changes in the expected illegal earnings. The fact that females behave di erently than males has implications for the heterogeneity in response to crime control policies. In addition, using a Blinder-Oaxaca type decomposition technique, we find that di erences in incentives explain about 12 percent of the gender crime gap, while di erences in responsiveness explain about 55 percent of the gap.