Influence of Youth Unemployment on Crime Rates in Mathare Constituency, Nairobi City County, Kenya
Many developing countries now grapple with the problem of unemployment. The unemployment rate among the youth is particularly higher than other demographic segments – especially in developing economies. Interestingly, the cities in many developing economies with high rates of youth unemployment also battle high rates of urban crime. The purpose of this study was to establish how youth unemployment influences crime rates in Mathare Constituency, with the aim of identifying strategies to mitigate crime among the youth. The study objectives were to explore the extent that youth unemployment influences the crime rates in Mathare, establish the prevalence of youth unemployment, examine the factors that cause youth unemployment, determine the connection between youth unemployment and high crime rates, and to identify the best strategy to mitigate the high number of crime rates in Mathare. The foundational framework for this study is Merton’s (1938) Strain theory which argues that a discord between people’s goals and means results in criminality. Merton (1938) believes that people hold a universal social goal of attaining material wealth and success; and that there is inequality in achieving these goals – leading to strain. Individual propensity to commit crime can also be explained through Albert Bandura’s social learning theory. According to this theory, people learn to commit crime from one another by modelling their behavior, imitating them, or making observations. They look at the rewards and punishments brought by crime, and make a decision to either accept crime and pursue it for the rewards, or shun it to avoid the punishments. The research design involved a descriptive survey on a sample of 125 urban youth (both male and females) between the ages of 18- 35 years. Self-administered questionnaires were also used to collect data. The target population for this study was the urban youth (both male and females) between the ages of 18- 35 years who are living in Mathare. Purposive sampling technique was used in this study with a non- probability design. This sampling method was applied to select youths aged 18-35 years in Mathare Constituency. The sample size used for this study was 125 people who were selected from urban youth in Mathare. The two research tools used to obtain primary data were an interview guide and a questionnaire. During data analysis, quantitative data obtained from the questionnaires was analyzed by the use of descriptive statistics which included cross-tabulations, percentages frequencies and aided by the Statistical Program for Social Sciences (SPSS). The findings indicate that youth unemployment could influence the rates of crime in Mathare. These findings are premised on the notion that youth unemployment forces people to use illegal means to achieve societal expectations. The study concludes that youths are attracted to criminal activities because of poverty. Job creation can therefore help decrease criminal activities among the youth. Education is one of the strategies that can help push youth away from criminal activities and create jobs for themselves. The study further recommends that the government could develop an integrated information system which captures the bio-data of all youth who are unemployed in Kenya and make deliberate move to help them create employment.