Homicide Rates in South East Los Angeles: The Impact of 20 Years of Demographic Change

Danielle Wallace, University of California, Irvine
George Tita, University of California, Irvine

Our research evaluates changes in homicide between 1980 and 2000 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. Using micro-level data from police case files, we assess changes in the level and characteristics of homicide in light of the changing demographics of place, paying particular attention to not only race and ethnic distributions but also age structure. We utilize data on ethnic composition kept by local public housing offices and by public schools in the area to capture annual changes in neighborhood composition. Spatial autocorrelation and regression will also be used to explain spatial characteristics of homicides over the 20-year period. We suspect that significant demographic change will overlap the major shifts in the homicide rate, and will also be reflected in the housing projects. We also anticipate that homicides will cluster in areas where the shift from the African American majority to a Latino majority is most drastic.

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Updated 05/20/2006