Relative and Absolute Deprivation’s Relationship With Violent Crime in the United States: Testing an Interaction Effect Between Income Inequality and Disadvantage


Relative deprivation and absolute deprivation both have effects on crime. Although these two concepts are often treated as separate, some scholarship has suggested that the two may be complementary. The current study assesses whether the effects of relative and absolute deprivation interact statistically in their effect on violent crime by testing an interaction effect between income inequality and disadvantage. Using data from U.S. counties, hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) regression models show that there is a significant interaction between relative and absolute deprivation predicting violent crime rates. The plot of this interaction shows that when absolute deprivation is high, there is less violence in high inequality counties than in counties with medium levels of inequality. The implication of this finding is discussed.

Publication Title

Crime and Delinquency