Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 15–48 | Cite as

The rate of surplus value and crime. A theoretical and empirical examination of Marxian economic theory and criminology

  • Michael J. Lynch
  • W. Byron Groves
  • Alan Lizotte


Radical criminology is often dismissed on the claim that it is not empirically verifiable. In this paper we argue that grounding the radical approach in Marx's theory of surplus values creates an empirically testable Marxian theory applicable to understanding rates of criminal offending and official responses to criminal behavior. Our analysis demonstrates that the rate of surplus value is a statistically significant predictor of the rate of property crimes known, property crime arrests, violent crimes known, violent crime arrests and total index crimes known to police in the U.S. from 1950 to 1974 controlling for the effects of predictor variables identified in earlier research on crime rates. The theoretical implications of this finding and the importance of the theory of surplus value to the development of radical criminology are also discussed.


Predictor Variable Early Research Crime Rate International Relation Violent Crime 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Lynch
    • 1
  • W. Byron Groves
    • 2
  • Alan Lizotte
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Criminology and Criminal JusticeFlorida State UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Humanistic StudiesUniversity of Wisconsin-Green BayUSA
  3. 3.School of Criminal JusticeState University of New York at AlbanyUSA

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