Structural Covariates or Arrest Rates: Does Crime Begat Crime?

Karen A. Mason, Washington State University
Andrew L. Hochstetler, Iowa State University

Why do some areas have higher or lower crime rates than others? Previous resarch has answered this question by examining the relationship between structural covariates and arrest rates over time, pointing to the cumulative effect of these economic and social conditions on future crime rates. Often missing from the analysis is an investigation of the perpetuating nature of crime itself. To better undertstand the role of crime in concentration effects we examine the relationship of arrests for nuisance crimes (e.g. public drunkienness, vagrancy and others) and relatively organized crimes on future crime rates controlling for commonly used structural covariates. Census, offense and arrest data from four decennial census years (1960, 19670, 1980, 1990) for 100 MSAs are used to address questions such as: do different types of crimes predict future index crime rates better than economic or social indicators? Preliminary findings show that certain public order and nuisance crimes and crimes that indicate the presence of a criminal infrastructure affect change in violent and property crime in subsequent decades.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006