Divorce and Crime Victimization

While paging through the statistical tables of Criminal Victimization in the United States I found some interesting data on victimization, marriage and divorce.  The rate of victimization for violent crimes (per 1,000 persons aged 12 and over) for never married and married males is as follows:

  • Never Married Males: 45.0
  • Married Males: 12.3
Clearly, married males are older and they have settled down, usually in places away from crime hot spots.  Thus the fact that the rate of victimization for married males is much lower than for never married males is no surprise.  What did surprise me is that divorced males have rates of victimization about as high as for never married males:
  • Divorced or Separated Males: 44.2
The same pattern is even stronger for females:
  • Never Married Females: 38.4
  • Married Females: 10.3
  • Divorced or Separated Females: 49.4

The patterns are suggestive of how large a difference one’s choices can make for criminal victimization.  That is, one hypothesis to explain the data is that singles congregate in urban, high crime areas and they go out at night to bars and other high crime locations.  Married individuals move to low crime suburbs and stay home with popcorn and Netflix.  The divorced, however, move back to the cities where the singles are and they head out at night to try to mate again.

An alternative hypothesis is that the individuals who tend to get divorced have personalities or behaviors which make them more likely to get divorced and more likely to be victims of crime: a drug user, for example, is likely to have a higher probability of divorce and a higher probability of being a victim of crime than a non drug-user.

How many other hypotheses can you think of to explain the data?  What tests would you suggest to distinguish hypotheses?


Comments for this post are closed