The Collaborative Centre for Justice and Safety
An initiative of the University of Regina Office Of The Vice-President (Research)

Economics of Community Safety

Governments at all levels are grappling with the challenges of increasing demands on police services at the same time that their budgets are threatened with cuts. Although Canada’s economy has weathered the financial crisis that started in 2008 with fewer disruptions than in the United Kingdom or the United States, there are signs that global economic conditions, especially in the European Union, continue to be uncertain and those challenges could have a substantial impact upon economic conditions in Canada. Economic uncertainty can have an impact on all government services, including policing.

Austerity Policing

Austerity Policing
In this project the research team will review the economics, management, and policing literatures to identify current trends in respect to the relationships between economics and policing, including how police services in other nations have managed austerity.
The RAND cost of crime calculator was introduced in 2010 as an instrument to be used by US police stakeholders to better understand the value proposition of policing. There are a number of shortcomings to this model that make it less efficient in estimating the benefits of policing in Canada. The investigators will identify how the calculator could be modified to inform provincial policing by a) adding additional offences to the calculator; b) updating the instrument using the results of cost-benefit and officer effectiveness research published since 2010, and: c) considering benefits to society other than reducing serious crimes (e.g., reducing traffic accidents).


Published fall 2014 by University of Regina professors Rick Ruddell, Ph.D. and Nicholas Jones, Ph.D., Austerity Policing: Responding to Crime During Economic Downturns documents the difficulties and challenges faced by police forces operating with less funding and resources.
Austerity Policing

Published summer 2014 by University of Regina professors Rick Ruddell, Ph.D. and Nicholas Jones, Ph.D., The Economics of Canadian Policing Five Years Into the Great Recession aims to identify current trends in relationships between economics and policing as part of a proactive strategy to enable Canadian police agencies to plan well for the future.
The Economics of Canadian Policing

The Changing Economy and Demography of Saskatchewan and its Impact on Crime and Policing

This research project aims to examine the socio-economic determinants of crime, and identify how economic and demographic changes in Saskatchewan and its cities have influenced changes in crime rates, and to speculate how crime rates might evolve with continued resource development and the expansion of the Saskatchewan economy.

Phase I Report: Overview of Demographic, Economic, Crime and Policing Trends in Saskatchewan, Stuart Wilson and Ken Sagynbekov Department of Economics, University of Regina. This first report provides an overview of the economic and demographic changes that have occurred over the last two decades in Saskatchewan and its ten major cities, and the coinciding changes in policing and crime rates. The Saskatchewan economy shifted into a higher gear around 2006, after two decades of slow population and economic growth, and rising crime rates. The Saskatchewan economy has recently benefitted from rising commodity prices, an export boom, increased resource exploration and development, an investment and construction boom, increased international immigration flows, and substantial net interprovincial in-migration. Saskatchewan has experienced substantial reductions in rates of violent crime and of property crime while economic conditions in the province improved. The rate of violent crime in Saskatchewan fell by 30% from 2003 to 2012. The rate of property crime fell by 32% from 2003 to 2012. However, even with these improvements, crime rates in Saskatchewan are the highest among the Prairie Provinces.
Phase I Report (pdf)

Phase II Report: Influences on Criminal Behaviour - Theory and Evidence, Stuart Wilson, Ken Sagynbekov, Taylor Pardy, Jason Penner Department of Economics, University of Regina, June 2015. This second report presents a review of the literature on the theoretical and empirical determinants of criminal behaviour and crime. On the basis of economic theory, the factors that are believed to be important determinants of crime are levels of income, unemployment, inflation, poverty, inequality, educational attainment, age, differences in family structures, immigration, ethnic differences, punishment for offenses, policing strength and resources, and crime prevention strategies. Empirical studies provide support for the inferences that criminal activity will be reduced with an increase in police size and/or resources, an increase in the severity of punishment, an increase in incarceration, an increase in employment opportunities for young men with low skill and education levels, and a decline in inflation. Other demographic factors are associated with an elevated propensity for criminal behavior. They are youthfulness, belonging to broken or lone-parent households, and belonging to visible minority groups.
Phase II Report (pdf)

Phase III Report: Saskatchewan Crime Patterns and Determinants, Stuart Wilson, Department of Economics, University of Regina, May 2017. This third report examines crime patterns in Saskatchewan and investigates their determinants, with a particular focus on demographic and economic influences. Property crime rates rose from the 1960s to 1988 in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and to 1991 in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Afterwards, these rates started a trend decline. However, rates of property crime were subject to two exceptionally large one-period jumps after which property crime rates re-established the trend decline: in 1998 with the shift in reporting from UCR1 to UCR2 methodologies; and in 2003 with other changes in police-reporting practices. Among the economic and demographic factors examined, the estimation results provide evidence that declining property crime rates coincided with rising real household incomes per capita, increasing real per capita alcohol sales, declining unemployment rates, declining share of youth in the population, and decreasing population movements, through decreases in the immigration rate, decreases in the inter-provincial in-migration rate, and/or decreases in the interprovincial out-migration rate. Rates of violent crime generally rose from the 1960s to the end of the twentieth century in Canada. Rates of violent crime have only recently been in decline, since 2000 in Ontario and Manitoba, since 2003 in Saskatchewan, since 2005 in BC and since 2008 in Alberta. The estimation results suggest that the decreases in the rate of violent crime were associated with decreases in the unemployment rate, decreases in real per capita alcohol sales, decreases in international and inter-provincial in-migration, and increases in inter-provincial out-migration.
Phase III Report (pdf)

Phase IV Report: Survey on the Perceptions and Expectations of Economic and Demographic Change and of Community Safety in Saskatchewan, Stuart Wilson, Department of Economics, University of Regina, December 2017. This fourth report presented the results of a 2015 survey of community and business leaders on perceptions of changes in the economy, community, and crime and safety over the last two decades. Survey respondents indicated that economic growth had been quite strong over the previous decade and a slight majority expected similarly strong growth in the future. Respondents indicated that migrants were important for growth, and that migrant families integrated well into their communities, but less so for single migrant workers. As increasing migration movements have been empirically tied to increases in property crime, communities have a heightened incentive to better integrate new migrants and to improve awareness of crime prevention methods and initiatives when people move into and out of communities. Respondents believed that the police force had a strong presence in their communities, and that there were as many or more community safety, youth employment, and youth activities available in their communities than in the previous decade. However, the majority of respondents believed that illicit drug use, alcohol abuse, property crime, youth crime and youth gangs were problems in their communities.
Phase IV Report (pdf)

Phase V Report: Crime Rates and the Influences of Economic and Demographic Differences across Police Jurisdictions – A Census-Based Approach, Stuart Wilson, Department of Economics and Collaborative Centre for Justice and Safety, University of Regina, February 2021. This fifth report uses the 2006 and 2016 Census profiles, compiled and reported by police detachment jurisdictions in Ontario and the four western provinces, and matched with the corresponding detachment crime statistics, to examine the economic and demographic correlates with crime. The empirical results strongly support the inferences that, all else equal, higher rates of total, violent, and property crime were associated with larger shares of lone-parent families, higher rates of people living alone, larger shares of Indigenous peoples, larger shares of the population without high school certificates, higher median after-tax family income, lower rates of home ownership, and lower rates of crime incidents cleared by charges. This report also highlights detachment areas with lower than expected crime rates, and higher than expected crime rates, based on their economic and demographic characteristics when compared to other detachments in western Canada. The detachments in Saskatchewan with high rates of total crime relative to the provincial rate, and also with rates more than 50% higher than expected when compared to other detachments with similar features were North Battleford (2006, 2016), Fort Qu’Appelle (2006), Loon Lake (2006), Yorkton (2006), and Pierceland (2016). The detachments with rates of total crime less than two-thirds their expected rates, given their economic and demographic features were Pinehouse (2006, 2016), Rosthern (2006, 2016), Warman (2006, 2016), Coronach (2006), Leader (2006), Milestone (2006), Humboldt (2016), and Watrous (2016). Further study of detachments with similar characteristics, but with large differences in their crime rates, may help identify additional characteristics that are important determinants of crime. These may include gang activity which increases crime, as well as targeted community crime prevention and awareness programs or community support programs which reduce crime and may be adapted for other regions.
Phase V Report (pdf)