Temporal changes in racial violence, 1980 to 2006: A latent trajectory approach

Karen F. Parker, Richard Stansfield, Patricia L. McCall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objectives The study examines the ability of a latent trajectory approach to advance our understanding of the temporal trends in white and black homicide rates over a critical period, 1980 to 2006. After establishing distinct trajectories that reveal hidden racial heterogeneity, we estimate which of two dominant arguments concerning the changes in homicide rates over time: 1) macrostructural conditions and 2) crime control and drug sales—best explain the latent class race-specific homicide rate memberships at the city level. Methods Using homicide data from the Uniform Crime Reports along with decennial U.S. census data across three time periods, we employ both latent trajectory and time series approaches. Results Our latent trajectory approach identified three unique trends or groupings of cities based on white and black homicide rates, reflecting “high”, “medium” and “low” temporal homicide trends. Time series models highlight variation in which characteristics contributed to the distinct race-specific homicide trends by trajectory group. Conclusions Together, this study reveals hidden heterogeneity among American cities with respect to temporal trends that inform the current debate about diversity in the location and magnitude of the crime drop as well as which factors contributed to homicide trends by racial groups. Implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


  • Crime control strategies
  • Crime drop
  • Homicide trends
  • Latent trajectory approach
  • Macrostructural approach
  • Racial violence
  • Time series analysis


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