Is Job Accessibility Relevant to Crime Patterns? A GIS Approach

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

Economists and criminologists have long tried to establish linkages between job markets and crime. Most prior research, however, used large areas such as the whole nation, states, metropolitan areas or counties to identify job markets. Such large units are heterogeneous, and there may be more variation within such units than between them. This research uses two GIS-based methods to measure job access across census tracts in Cleveland, Ohio in 1990. The first is a ratio of jobs to resident workers (JR Ratio) within catchment areas defined by reasonable commuting times. The second approach is a gravity-based Job Accessibility Index, which accounts for job competition among workers and longer commute times by public transit riders. Controlling for spatial autocorrelation, we find consistent inverse relationships between gravity-based job accessibility and crime rates. These relationships tend to be stronger for economic crimes than for crimes of violence.

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Updated 05/20/2006