Toward an Integrated Multilevel Theory of Crime at Place: Routine Activities, Social Disorganization, and The Law of Crime Concentration

Abstract

Objectives

We propose and test a multilevel theoretical model of crime concentration by combining criminal opportunity and social disorganization into a single hierarchical model. Our theoretical model simultaneously answers calls to integrate routine activities theory and social disorganization theory and provides a logical framework for understanding the connections between neighborhood context and micro-spatial environmental conditions.

Methods

To test our theory we used multilevel negative binomial regression with controls for spatial dependence to estimate street segment level crime counts.

Results

Findings showed the expected direct effects on street segment-level violent and property crime of both micro- and neighborhood-level characteristics. Our results for cross-level interaction effects provided evidence neighborhood context moderates the association between street segment-level variables and crime. Model comparisons using likelihood ratio tests revealed that including neighborhood-level characteristics improved explanatory power relative to single level models.

Conclusions

This study lends support to a multilevel theory of the law of crime concentration that includes both neighborhood and street segment level conditions.

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Correspondence to Roderick W. Jones.

Appendix

Appendix

See Tables 6 and 7.

Table 6 Data sources and measurement of street segment level opportunity variables
Table 7 Data sources and measurement of street segment level social disorganization variables

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Jones, R.W., Pridemore, W.A. Toward an Integrated Multilevel Theory of Crime at Place: Routine Activities, Social Disorganization, and The Law of Crime Concentration. J Quant Criminol 35, 543–572 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10940-018-9397-6

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Keywords

  • Street segments
  • Neighborhoods
  • Law of crime concentration
  • Routine activities
  • Social disorganization