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An assessment of adults’ views on white-collar crime

Thomas E. Dearden (Department of Criminal Justice, High Point University, High Point, USA)

Journal of Financial Crime

ISSN: 1359-0790

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




This paper aims to update our understanding of the public’s opinion of white-collar crime and explains perceptions of white-collar crime using self-interest, political affiliation and in-group/out-group characteristics.


A state-wide phone survey of adults in North Carolina was conducted, and 421 adults responded. They provided their views of white-collar crime, the need for government intervention and whether they were more concerned about white-collar crime in the public or private sector.


In the survey, 74 per cent of the responders agreed or strongly agreed that white-collar crime is one of the leading problems in this decade, and 74 per cent of the responders suggested that it is not being adequately addressed by our legislators. Evidence suggests that individuals who are conservative, have high confidence in their economic circumstances or are demographically similar to stereotypical white-collar criminals perceive white-collar crime to be less of a problem than individuals without these characteristics.


This study shows that perceptions of the dangers of white-collar crime have increased since its inception. Additionally, this study extends our understanding about why certain demographics are more likely to care (and why high-ranking politicians are less likely to care) about white-collar crime.



Dearden, T.E. (2017), "An assessment of adults’ views on white-collar crime", Journal of Financial Crime, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 309-321.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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