This study focused on the effect of economic resources and racial/ethnic composition on the change in crime rates from 1970-2004 in United States cities in metropolitan areas that experienced a large growth in population after World War II. Specifically, the study investigated the effects of city-level class and race/ethnicity variables, the effects of the distribution of these class and race/ethnicity indicators across households in cities, and the effects of the spatial distribution of these class and race/ethnicity measures across neighborhoods on city crime trajectories. In this way, the project tested whether the effects of racial/ethnic heterogeneity and class composition on city crime rates occurred at the neighborhood (census tract) level or at the city level.
A total of 352 cities in the following United States metropolitan areas were selected for this study: Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, Orange County, Orlando, Phoenix, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Silicon Valley (Santa Clara), and Tampa/St. Petersburg. Selection was based on the fact that these areas developed during a similar time period and followed comparable development trajectories. In particular, these 14 areas, known as the "boomburbs" for their dramatic, post-World War II population growth, all faced issues relating to the rapid growth of tract-style housing and the subsequent development of low density, urban sprawls. Thus, by comparing a group of cities at similar "development" stages over the same 1970-2004 time period, the study worked to control for other city characteristics in isolating the effect of economic and racial/ethnic distribution across households and neighborhoods on city crime rate trajectories.
The study combined place-level data obtained from the United States Census with crime data from the Uniform Crime Reports for five categories of Type I crimes: aggravated assaults, robberies, murders, burglaries, and motor vehicle thefts. Specifically, logged rates were computed per 1,000 residents for each crime type for each year between 1970 and 2004. Data from the United States Census were used to construct place-level measurements of economic resources and racial/ethnic composition for the years 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000. Also, city-level variables pertaining to homeownership, single parent households, unemployment, population size, and the average age of city housing structures were included.
A total of 352 cities with available crime data in 1980 were selected from the following United States metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, Orange County, Orlando, Phoenix, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Silicon Valley (Santa Clara) and Tampa/St. Petersburg. These cities were selected for inclusion due to their high, post-World War II population growth rates and similar development trajectories.
All cities with crime data in 1980 in metropolitan areas in the United States that experienced a large growth in population after World War II.
Census place (city)
United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Census Data, 1980.
United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Census Data, 1970.
United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Uniform Crime Reporting Program Data [United States], 1970-2004. See Uniform Crime Reporting Program Data [United States] Series.
United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Census Data, 1990.
United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Census Data, 2000.
administrative records data
The dataset contains a total of 247 variables pertaining to crime, economic resources, and race/ethnic composition. Variables include logged, city-level crime rates for aggravated assaults, homicides, robberies, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts for each year between 1990 and 2004. Place-level variables derived from census data for the years 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000 include average age of buildings, average family income, percentage of single parent families, proportion of city residents ages 18-29 who attend college, proportion of city households who own their residence, percentage of occupied houses, city population, percent unemployed, and proportion of crowded households as measured by those households with more than one person per room. In addition, the dataset contains variables for the years 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000 on percent Black, percent Latino, and percent White in a place; ethnic heterogeneity; Theil's index of dissimilarity between household income categories for tracts in places; a mean Theil index; the standard deviation in average logged household income over tracts in a city; and the Gini coefficient for family income. A variable for population density per square mile is also included for years 1990 and 2000. Lastly, the dataset contains a state/place FIPS code variable and a state/county FIPS code variable.