Poverty, Concentrated Poverty, and Neighborhood Crime Rates

Lance E. Hannon, Villanova University

ABSTRACT
A number of recent city-level studies hyave found that measures of concentrated poverty have a stronger relationship to urban crime rates than traditional measures of deprivatiohn, such as the poverty rate. These studies often frame their results in terms of cumulative disadvantage or social contagion theories. However, the theories cited by these studies were originally developed to describe neighborhood conditions and processes, not city-wide pheomenon. Taking advantage of some recent innovations in Geographic Information Software (GIS), the present study examines the distinct effect of concentrated poverty on neighborhood crime rates using data for census tracts in two large U.S. cities: Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC. Findings from regression analyses at the neighborhood-level appear to contradict those of some earlier city-level studies. Theoretical implications are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006