Examining the Relationship Between the Structural Characteristics of Place and Crime by Imputing Census Block Data in Street Segments: Is the Pain Worth the Gain?

Original Paper



The current study proposes unique methods for apportioning existing census data in blocks to street segments and examines the effects of structural characteristics of street segments on crime. Also, this study tests if the effects of structural characteristics of street segments are similar with or distinct from those of blocks.


This study compiled a unique dataset in which block-level structural characteristics are apportioned to street segments utilizing the 2010 U.S. Census data of the cities of Anaheim, Santa Ana, and Huntington Beach in Orange County, California. Negative binomial regression models predicting crime that include measures of social disorganization and criminal opportunities in street segments and blocks were estimated.


The results show that whereas some of the coefficients tested at the street segment level are similar to those aggregated to blocks, a few were quite different (most notably, racial/ethnic heterogeneity). Additional analyses confirm that the imputation methods are generally valid compared to data actually collected at the street segment level.


The results from the street segment models suggest that the structural characteristics from social disorganization and criminal opportunities theories at street segments may operate as crucial settings for crime. Also the results indicate that structural characteristics have generally similar effects on crime in street segments and blocks, yet have some distinct effects at the street segment level that may not be observable when looking at the block level. Such differences underscore the necessity of serious consideration of the issues of level of aggregation and unit of analysis when examining the structural characteristics-crime nexus.


Street segments Structural characteristics Criminal opportunities Social disorganization theory Level of aggregation Unit of analysis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminology, Law and SocietyUniversity of California - IrvineIrvineUSA

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