Toward an Explanation of the Race-Crime Link: The Inequitable Distribution of City Resources

Maria B. Velez, University of Iowa

ABSTRACT
An important social fact regarding the spatial distribution of crime is the higher crime rates in minority as compared to white neighborhoods. This study seeks to further explain this race-crime link by investigating the role played by two important city resources -- residential loans and Community Development Block Grants -- across Chicago neighborhoods during the early to mid 1990s. I find that African American and Latino neighborhoods not only receive significantly fewer dollars in city resources than comparably situated white neighborhoods but these resources help to reduce the level of homicide and burglary victimization risk in these neighborhoods. This means that inequality in city resources translates into the differential capacity of minority and white neighborhoods to control crime. It follows that if minority neighborhoods are allocated greater sums of city resources their crime levels would be substantially reduced. Given the unequal racial distribution of city resources and their impact on reducing crime, important crime differentials will continue to exist between minority and white neighborhoods unless city officials become more responsive to minority communities.

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Updated 05/20/2006