The Relationship Between Debt and Crime: A Systematic and Scoping Review


The systemic review found that an individual’s present debt and delinquency are directly related.

In a first of its kind, this study explores the relationship between debt and crime among adolescents and adults. The two-part study includes a systematic review of five studies that detail the direct link between debt and crime, followed by a scoping review of 24 studies that examine the prevalence of debt among offenders and the socioeconomic factors that influence crime. The results of the systemic review suggest strong evidence of a reciprocal relationship between indebtedness and delinquency among adolescents and young adults. The scoping review emphasizes the prevalence of debt among offenders, regardless of age and socioeconomic factors. The findings from this study imply that debt may hinder resocialization after incarceration, and interventions and aftercare programs for offenders should target debt and treat it as a risk factor for recidivism. 

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Key Findings:

  • There is a strong relationship between adolescents with debt and property crimes.
  • Juvenile offenders who recidivate are more likely to have debts.
  • Monetary sanctions pose significant harm to individuals living in poverty.
Gercoline van Beek, Vivienne de Vogel, and Dike van de Mheen
European Journal of Probation