Journal of Quantitative Criminology

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 61–87 | Cite as

Telling a Similar Story Twice? NCVS/UCR Convergence in Serious Violent Crime Rates in Rural, Suburban, and Urban Places (1973–2010)

  • Mark T. Berg
  • Janet L. Lauritsen
Original Paper



This study examines UCR and NCVS serious violence crime trends in urban, suburban, and rural areas, and assesses the extent to which discrepancies in the two data series are due to victim reporting or police crime-recording practices. Particular attention is paid to the dynamics of the rural data series.


NCVS data for 1973–2010 are used to estimate subnational rates of serious violence and comparable rates for crimes that victims said were reported to police, and these estimates are compared to subnational UCR data. Time-series cointegration analysis is used to assess convergence in the NCVS and UCR series along with descriptive comparative analyses.


The degree of convergence in UCR and NCVS trends was found to vary across areas; however this was not due to differences in rates of reporting to police. Suburban and urban UCR and NCVS trends converged with and without adjustment for police reporting. Little evidence of NCVS/UCR series convergence was found in rural areas even after victim reporting was taken into account.


The recording and production of crime data by the police appears to contribute to subnational differences in the convergence between the UCR and NCVS series. The findings suggest rural crime trend analysis should not be based solely on UCR data. To illustrate the difference between conclusions based on UCR and NCVS rural violence trends, we find that poverty rates have a large, significant association with rural violence as measured in the NCVS, but are unrelated to UCR rates.


Crime trends Violence measurement NCVS/UCR convergence Rural 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Criminology and Criminal JusticeUniversity of Missouri-St. LouisSt. LouisUSA

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