Crime and deviance during the COVID-19 pandemic

Sociol Compass. 2022 Apr;16(4):e12974. doi: 10.1111/soc4.12974. Epub 2022 Feb 24.


The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the world and inevitably influenced people's behaviors including the likelihood of crime and deviance. Emerging empirical evidence suggests a decline in certain crimes (e.g., theft, robbery, and assault) but also proliferation of different violent behaviors and cybercriminal activity during the pandemic. To explain those trends, we draw on existent theories and elaborate on how crime and violence have been affected by the changes in people's daily routines and accumulated stressful conditions. However, as recent crime trends appear to be largely inconsistent and vary across social groups and contexts, we argue that social scientists need to pay particular attention to the differential experiences related to crime and violence during this global crisis. Specifically, because of the disproportionate experience of violence by vulnerable groups including minorities and women as well as the unique cross-national variations in deviance, more nuanced approaches to understanding causes of crime are warranted. We also discuss the limitations of present research and provide recommendations for the development of comparative and multi-disciplinary studies on criminal and deviant behaviors that are influenced by human crisis situations.

Keywords: COVID‐19; crime; criminological theory; deviance; inequality; pandemic; violence.

Publication types

  • Review