The deleterious effects of poverty on individuals and communities have long been studied in a variety of scholarly disciplines. Evidence indicates that poverty and low socioeconomic status are associated with numerous ills, including psychological and behavioral problems in children (Bor et al., 1997; Caspi, Taylor, Moffitt, & Plomin, 2000), socialization problems (Elliott et al., 1996), anxiety, conduct disorder (Miech, Caspi, Moffitt, Wright, & Silva, 1999), teen joblessness and young motherhood, single parenthood ( Krivo, Peterson, Rizzo, & Reynolds, 1998; Massey, Gross, & Eggers, 1991), and a variety of health problems in adults (Poulton et al., 2002). In his article entitled “Rags to Rags" Corcoran (1995) finds that the adult fate of children is consistently linked to their parents’ economic resources. Early authors blamed the plight of the poor on overgenerosity toward them in the form of welfare (e.g., Murray, 1984) but more recent analyses paint a picture in which structural features of urban life, such as urban labor markets and the loss of manufacturing jobs, have served to escalate poverty rates and related inner-city problems (Eggers & Massey, 1992; Wilson, 1987). Furthermore, it is becoming more difficult for impoverished people to move out of poverty.
Poverty has the potential to strongly motivate desperate, antisocial behavior because it threatens basic necessities such as food, safety, and esteem.