This study tests the accuracy of the current consensus that the physical and economic consequences of crime are greater for the elderly than for other age groups. Data from 1973 and 1974 national surveys show that the elderly are no more likely than other age groups to suffer more severe physical injuries or larger financial losses from crime. However, when the relative economic losses to mature adults over the age of 40 are examined, adults age 65 and over appear to be heavier economic losers. The paper suggests that the crime problem of the elderly may not be an age-related problem but rather a condition-related problem, with the condition being one of low income.

Author notes

Some of the information in this manuscript was presented by the first author in testimony on Feb. 1, 1978, before the House Select Committee on Aging and the House Committee on Science and Technology when the committees held hearings in Washington on crimes against the elderly. Computer analysis and the participation of the second author was supported in part by Grant No. 75-NI-99-0130 from the National Institute on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, to Northwestern University's Center for Urban Affairs. Points of view or opinions stated in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official positions or policies of the U.S. Dept. of Justice.