Urban Crime Rates: Effects of Inequality, Welfare Dependency, Region, and Race

  • Richard Rosenfeld
Part of the Research in Criminology book series (RESEARCH CRIM.)


If crime is to be explained from a sociological perspective, it should be viewed as a product of social organization. The two basic dimensions of social organization are culture and social structure. There are, in turn, two generic causal models of crime in sociology: a cultural model, which explains crime as a product of conformity to cultural or subcultural values, and a structural model, which explains crime as a product of structural discontinuity or disorganization.1 Two contemporary variants of the structural model of crime may also be distinguished: control theory and strain theory. Control theory assumes that crime results from a breakdown in structural controls over behavior. Strain theory assumes that crime results from an anomic imbalance or contradiction between culture and social structure.2


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    See Rosenfeld (1984) for a detailed explication of each of these perspectives.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See the review in Decker, Schichor, and O’Brien (1982, p. 21–24). Some researchers have concluded that, in spite of their shortcomings, the UCR measures are fairly valid for purposes of intercity comparisons (e.g., Hindelang, 1974; Skogan, 1974). Other researchers have questioned this assumption, at least for certain of the index offenses (Booth, Johnson, and Choldin, 1977; Decker, Shichor, and O’Brien, 1982; O’Brien, Shichor, and Becker, 1980).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    The intensity of deprivation may be defined as the degree of discrepancy or difference between capabilities and expectations. The scope of deprivation refers to the proportion of a population sharing some specified level of deprivation (see Gurr, 1970, p.59–91).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Population totals are 1970 estimates from Federal Bureau of Investigation (1971). The unemployment measure is the percentage of the unemployed civilian labor force, taken from U.S. Bureau of the Census (1973). Regional location is a South-nonsouth dummy variable.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    r = —.39. WELEL is derived from the index of restrictiveness of state AFDC eligibility guidelines reported in Campbell and Bendick (1977, p. 85–86). Each SMSA was assigned the index value of the state in which it is located. The more restrictive a state’s guidelines, the higher its score on the index, thus accounting for the negative correlation between WELDEP and WELEL.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Curtis (1975) provides support for the use of racial composition as an aggregate- level indicator of violent contraculture. Noting “agglomeration effects” on the transmission of contraculture values in urban ghetto areas, he suggests that the size of the black population is an important demographic determinant of “contracultural takeoff (p. 36). He goes on to propose multicity studies of race and violent crime which investigate “differential outcomes as a function of relevant population size, proportion, and the like” (p. 36).Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Computed from data in U.S. Bureau of the Census (1973).Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    From U.S. Bureau of the Census (1973) for the 79 SMSAs for which all requisite data were available.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    The income and unemployment measures were constructed from data from U.S. Bureau of the Census (1973). The segregation data are tract-based indexes of dissimilarity for SMSAs in 1970 (reported in Van Valey, Roof, & Wilcox, 1977). The analysis is based upon the 196 SMSAs for which all requisite data were available.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Rosenfeld

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations