Edwin H. Sutherland coined the term "white-collar crime" in 1940 and his theory states that white-collar crime occurs because of exposure to other white-collar criminals, called the Differential Association Theory. This holds true today, although theories of criminology have been broadened and made more complex due to the advent of new technologies that enable new kinds of white-collar crime. Still, Sutherland's theory seems to make the most sense in terms of why white-collar crime has become so prevalent.
The simple pain vs. pleasure theory also applies, to a point. White-collar crime is often committed through a systematic deployment of certain transactions, either personal or electronic, that shifts assets from one place to another (the white-collar criminal's hands).
If we look at the more common views of white collar crime that have come to public attention in recent years, we can start with Ford Motors in the 1970's; three young women were killed in an accident involving a Ford Pinto; it was found that the gas tank feeder tube in the trunk was in a vulnerable position and prone to explode upon impact in a rear-end collision. ...