For over a century, scholars have traced higher levels of serious crime in minority compared to White neighborhoods to stark socioeconomic inequality. Yet, this research is largely cross-sectional and does not assess how ethnoracial differences in crime patterns evolve over time in response to shifting structural conditions. The new century witnessed substantial changes to the circumstances that undergird the ethnoracial divide in neighborhood crime as well as a national crime decline. How are the changing dynamics of urban inequality reinforcing or diminishing racial and ethnic disparities in neighborhood crime in the context of the Great American Crime Decline? We address this question by first identifying distinct paths of violent and property crime change between 1999 and 2013 for almost 2700 neighborhoods across eighteen cities. We then assess how initial and changing levels of disadvantage, housing instability, and demographics explain divergent crime trajectories within neighborhoods. We find that most neighborhoods have lower levels of homicide and burglary than fifteen years ago. However, homicide and burglary increased in some neighborhoods, and this trend is largely limited to Black neighborhoods. Disadvantage and the housing crisis are critical in accounting for the heightened risk of neighborhoods having increasing rather than decreasing crime trends. In contrast, immigration is linked with declining and stable trends in violent and property crime. Overall, results indicate a widening of the racial-spatial divide for the most marginalized communities in the United States.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cultural Studies
- Sociology and Political Science
- Crime Trends
- Ethnoracial Inequality
- Neighborhood Crime
- The Great Recession