Sociology ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 6-19-2017


Few studies of urban crime patterns have explored whether indicators of relative deprivation (e.g., income inequality) significantly associate with crime at the most theoretically appropriate level of analysis, the neighborhood; whether they do so net of controls for measures of absolute deprivation (e.g., structural disadvantage); and whether their effects vary by race/ethnicity. Drawing on data from the 2000 National Neighborhood Crime Study (NNCS) and census data extracted from the National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS), I explore these questions for overall, intraracial, and interracial inequality in income and educational attainment with respect to neighborhood homicide, burglary, and robbery rates. Their effects are compared across majority White, Black, and Latino census tracts embedded in a nationally representative sample of large U.S. cities. Consistent with prior research, I find that overall and intraracial inequality are more reliable predictors of neighborhood crime rates than interracial inequality, net of disadvantage; that the overall and intraracial inequality measures exert racially invariant effects only for homicide rates; and that for robbery and burglary rates, the most severe effects of these predictors are found in majority White neighborhoods. Although interracial inequality is never a significant covariate of homicide, it evinces an interesting pattern for the other two crime types: the largest effects are consistently found when the disadvantaged racial group in the comparison resides in neighborhoods where the more advantaged group is in the majority. Theoretical implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Christopher J. Lyons

Second Committee Member

Maria B. Velez

Third Committee Member

Noah Painter-Davis


relative deprivation, absolute deprivation, inequality, structural disadvantage, neighborhood, racial invariance thesis



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Sociology Commons