From African-American to Latino: The Impact of the Desegregation of Schools and Public Housing on Patterns of Homicide in Watts, Los Angeles

Richard Rosenfeld, University of Missouri - St. Louis
George Tita, University of California, Irvine

An extensive body of research addresses the impact of race and ethnic succession on community levels of crime and violence. Few studies, however, have examined the relationship between crime and the movement of Latinos into African-American communities. Our research evaluates changes in homicide between 1980 and 1999 in the Southeast area of Los Angeles, an impoverished area with a history of chronic violence in which Latinos have supplanted African Americans as the majority group. Over this time period, local schools and public housing projects were desegregated through decisions made outside of the local community context. Using micro-level data from police case files, we assess changes in the level and charateristics of homicide in light of these demographic and policy developments. Within-group homicides are expected to decrease while between-group homicides are expected to increase during the period. We expect the most pronounced changes to occur in youth homicides in and around the schools and public housing, especially in events involving gangs.

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Updated 05/20/2006