Immigration and Homicide: A Spatial Analytic Test of the Social Disorganization Theory

Jacob I. Stowell, University at Albany
Matthew T. Lee, University of Akron
Ramiro Martinez, Jr., Florida International University

This study seeks to address two lines of scholarship that have yet to be integrated: spatial analysis and immigration/crime research. The social disorganization theory is concerned with the crime-producing effects of social changes caused by immigration. At the time, the theory makes specific claims regarding the spatial distribution of crimes across an ecological area. An emerging body of research consistently finds that immigration is not associated with increased levels of violent crime. However, recent scholarship neglects the spatial arguments made by the social disorganization theory, focusing instead on the effects of immigration and other social structural covariates on crime. Using homicide data for Miami-Dade county, this study applies the latest methods of Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA) to examine the extent to which homicide and other structural factors, such as immigration and income, are spatially dependent. Contrary to the expectations of social disorganization theory, we do not find a high degree of spatial autocorrelation between immigration and crime.

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Updated 05/20/2006