Hypersegregation Testing the Effects of Extreme Social Isolation on Crime Rates

Jacob I. Stowell, University at Albany

ABSTRACT
Criminologists have long been interested in understanding how the structural characteristics of an area influence patterns of criminal offending. In the classical literature, Shaw and McKay's social disorganization theory highlights how neighborhood structure and levels of crime are inextricably linked. Following in this tradition, a recent series of articles examines the effects of residential segregation on the crime rates of cities or metropolitan areas. In the majority of these studies, a strong and positive relationship between residential segregation and crime is reported. However, previous research fails to examine the issue of hypersegregation, the condition that exists when an area is highly segregated along multiple dimensions of segregation simultaneously. The purpose of this paper is to test whether conditions of hypersegregation are associated with increased rates of crime. Using U.S. Census data for metro areas and measures of violent and non-violent crime, there is evidence to suggest that hypersegregated areas do have higher levels of some types of criminally deviant behavior.

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Updated 05/20/2006