Unemployment, Job Access and Crime: A GIS Analysis of Cleveland, Ohio

W. William Minor, Northern Illinois University
Fahui Wang, Northern Illinois University

In many urban areas there is a spatial mismatch between where people live and where the jobs are. In such cases, access to regular employment is difficult, expensive, and time-consuming, especially for those without personal vehicles. Under these conditions, crime may become a more attractive alternative to legitimate employment. Numerous theories and ethnographic accounts have posited a relationship between employment access and crime rates, but the relationship has rarely been studied formally. Using data disaggregated to the census tract level, the present research examines the relationships between job access, unemployment, and crime rates in Cleveland, Ohio in 1980 and 1990. Preliminary analysis of these data has revealed an inverse bivariate relationship between job access and crime rates. In the present study we examine the relationships between job access, unemployment, and crime, controlling for a number of other demographic factors. The core question is whether job access exerts an independent effect on unemployment and crime, or whether it is an undifferentiated part of a general pattern of social disadvantage.

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Updated 05/20/2006