Published: June 5, 2018

Download: Life Course Centre Working Paper: 2017-26


Tony Beatton, Michael P. Kidd, and Stephen Machin.

Non-Technical Summary:

In her American Economic Association Presidential address, Goldin (2014) highlights the convergence in female/male economic and social outcomes as one of the most significant advances of the twentieth century. She points to gender convergence in human capital skills; women are overtaking men in terms of the proportion with a college degree, and there are declining gender differences in labour force participation and accumulated labour market experience. This study looks at an interesting and almost entirely neglected research question: “Do women look more like men in terms of crime participation?”

This research explicitly focussed on trends in the gender gap in crime and on whether or not there is evidence of convergence. Our analysis uses very rich administrative data on the population of young people in Queensland, Australia. The evidence illustrates a significant narrowing of the gender-offending gap over a twenty-year period from 1995 onwards. This crime convergence occurs for property and violent crime, and for almost all sub-categories. We also employ a spatial panel data set by gender and police force district across four census years (2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016) to further explore crime trends by gender. This enables us to look at several factors that may be connected to gender crime convergence, and to present an illustrative decomposition of the gender gap in crime by these factors. Finally, we consider an education policy reform enacted in Queensland, the Earning or Learning reform that appears to have altered the speed of gender crime convergence in the mid to late 2000s.

The study revealed a strong convergence in offending rates by gender amongst young people in Queensland, Australia. Dependent on crime type, and on the age of individuals, we show there has been a significant narrowing of the gender-offending gap over the last two decades. The reduction in the gender gap is larger for juveniles and, in particular, for property crime. Amongst violent crimes, there is evidence of substantial narrowing of the gender gap in assaults for juveniles. Education, in particular, Queensland’s Earning or Learning reform seems to be an important factor in explaining cross-time and cross-gender changes.


December 22, 2017