A Cluster Analysis of Urban Drug Markets as Characterized by Arrestees

Bruce Taylor, National Institute of Justice
Henry H. Brownstein, National Institute of Justice
Dean R. Gerstein, NORC at the University of Chicago
Michael Yang, National Opinion Research Center

: Very little work has been done in the area of comparing the characteristics of drug markets across cities. The ADAM program collects data on the characteristics of drug markets in approximately 35 U.S. cites. Using ADAM data, we will construct theoretically meaningful accounts of observed geographic variation in these markets. Outside of the ADAM framework, there have been geographic analyses of drug markets using GIS and ethnographic explorations in specific cities. However, there have been no identification of geographic clusters or typologies across large numbers of cities.

This paper will focus on examining the clustering of urban communities by the characteristics of their drug markets. Once these clusters are developed, based mostly on U.S. Census demographic factors, we will examine the characteristics of these market typologies. Based on our earlier work, we will operationally define drug market stability to measure both structural and interactional stability. We will then illustrate how such measures of stability can be used to compare particular drug market types. For example, preliminary analysis suggests that large East Coast cities with historically high rates of crack use exhibit higher levels of structural and interactional stability, as compared to large methamphetamine markets based in growing Western U.S. cities.

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Updated 05/20/2006