Academic journal article African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS

Population Density and Armed Robbery in Nigeria: An Analysis of Variation across States

Academic journal article African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS

Population Density and Armed Robbery in Nigeria: An Analysis of Variation across States

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)


Crime, described here as the breaking of prohibitory laws, to which legitimate punishments are attached (Scott & Marshall, 2005) is a major social problem from which no known society is immune. In one of the earliest works with focus on the relationship between population density and the incidence of crime, Simmel (1905) theorized that the intensification of nervous stimulation that results from high population density in cities results in different forms of behaviors that negate the norms guiding behavior. Put differently, high population density contributes to delinquency and crime in society. The primary concern in this study is to explore the relationship between population density, which is a key indicator of the level of urbanization in a particular area, and the incidence and rate of crime in such an area.

Researchers, the world over, have explored different dimensions of crime, including types, trends, patterns, processes, causes, consequences and correctional approaches. Few of the most recent of these studies were reviewed to show what is known about the relationship between population density and crime across the globe in general and in Nigeria in particular. A study shows that property crime rate and population size are related but population size has no correlation with violent crime rates (Nolan, 2004). Harries (2006) on the other hand found violent and property crimes to be correlated with population density. Another study by Baltagi (2006) shows that although crime rates tend to increase with population density, the correlation is not significant. Yet another study suggests that violent and property crime rates are positively associated with percentage of commercially zoned areas, percentage of one-person household and unemployment rate (Kepple & Freisthler (2012).

Other studies have revealed findings of different shades on the subject matter including one by Chamlin & Cochran (2004) which concludes that population size (not density) is a strong predictor of violent and property crime counts; and another by Christens & Speer (2005) which argues that population density is among the most significant negative predictors of violent crime per capita (Christens & Speer, 2005). Studies have also attributed crime to other factors such as unemployment (Edmark, 2005; Andresen, 2006; Omotor, 2009; Hassan et al, 2012); absence/presence of tree canopy (Troy et al, 2012); presence of young populations (Andresen, 2006); combination of industrial/commercial land use with household dwellings (Shopeju, 2006); urbanization, weak criminal justice system and negative role models (Hassan et al, 2012).

One study has demonstrated that there is regional variation in rates of personal crime in Nigeria with the North-East having the highest rate and the South-West having the lowest rate. In addition, the study shows that the urban areas have higher rates of crime than the rural areas (Ikoh, 2011).This study seeks to solve the puzzle on state and regional variation in armed robbery cases in Nigeria. In a recent study in Nigeria, Omotor (2010) argued that population density is positively correlated to all forms of crime. The current study also seeks to interrogate this assertion by exploring the association between one form of crime, armed robbery and population density in a given year in which census was conducted in Nigeria. This takes away the need for projections which come with errors.

Theoretical background

Emile Durkheim's (1893/1984) ideas provide a theoretical background to this study. Durkheim argued that the inevitability of crime is connected to the heterogeneity of population in modern societies. Using the concept of anomie - a state in which the social norms, values and customs have broken down, and there exists norm and role confusion - he explained how social forces create an environment where crime is bound to occur. …

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