I was reading a paper which claims a negative correlation between welfare state spending and imprisonment rates ie the less spent on the welfare state as a % of gdp the higher the imprisonment rate. They plotted NZ as having 144 per 10,000 people in prison in 1998 with welfare spending at 21% of gdp.
In defiance of their theory both have increased in the past ten years.
Personally I don't think one can draw concrete conclusions about the relationship by comparing countries because there are just too many variables at play.
But while I was looking at imprisonment rates for NZ I came across this rather sobering fact. On any given day of the year 3.2 percent of male Maori 23 year-olds are in prison.
F A Hayek – Unemployment And The Free Market
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