Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 593–626 | Cite as

Inequality and crime revisited: effects of local inequality and economic segregation on crime

  • Songman KangEmail author
Original Paper


Economic inequality has long been considered an important determinant of crime. Existing evidence, however, is mostly based on inadequately aggregated data sets, making its interpretation less than straightforward. Using tract- and county-level U.S. Census panel data, I decompose county-level income inequality into its within- and across-tract components and examine the extent to which county-level crime rates are influenced by local inequality and economic segregation. I find that the previously reported positive correlation between violent crime and economic inequality is largely driven by economic segregation across neighborhoods instead of within-neighborhood inequality. Moreover, there is little evidence of a significant empirical link between overall inequality and crime when county- and time-fixed effects are controlled for. On the other hand, a particular form of economic inequality, namely, poverty concentration, remains an important predictor of county-level crime rates.


Crime Inequality Poverty concentration Inequality decomposition 

JEL Classification

K42 I32 



I am grateful to two anonymous referees, Seth Sanders, Phil Cook, Peter Arcidiacono, Joe Hotz, and Chris Timmins for valuable comments. I also thank seminar participants at Duke University and Osaka University of Economics for discussions and comments. This work was supported by the research fund of Hanyang University (HY-201400000001597).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Economics and FinanceHanyang UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

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