Political Ideology and Concerns About White-Collar Crime: Exploring the Switch Hypothesis

Amy Kroska, Marshall R. Schmidt, Cyrus Schleifer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: Numerous studies show that political conservatives in the United States are more concerned about crime than are political liberals. But, according to the “switch hypothesis,” the direction of the association should reverse when the focus is on reducing and punishing white-collar crime. Despite the intuitiveness of this hypothesis, however, only one study to date has directly tested it. Method: We explore the hypothesis using data from an online survey administered to undergraduate, graduate, and law students at a southern university. We include a wide range of controls, including demographic attributes, socioeconomic indicators, street crime victimization, white-collar crime victimization, and a composite measure of trust in professionals. Results: As hypothesized, political conservatives are less concerned about reducing and punishing white-collar crime than are political liberals, and the association is stronger for men than it is for women, patterns that hold with and without the controls. The main effect of conservatism also holds (1) when examined with structural equation modeling, (2) when each item of the dependent variable is examined separately with stereotype logistic regression, and (3) when the sample is weighted to match the gender and race/ethnicity distribution in the population from which it was drawn. Conclusion: Consistent with the switch hypothesis, the results suggest that conservatives are less concerned about white-collar crime than are liberals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1685-1698
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2019


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