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Homicide risk across race and class: a small-area analysis in Massachusetts and Rhode Island

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Abstract

Areas with higher absolute poverty and higher income inequality have been associated with higher risk of homicide victimization. In addition, studies of differential homicide rates have indicated that black persons are at a higher risk of homicide compared to white persons. However, few studies directly compared risk of homicide offending or victimization between Hispanic persons and non-Hispanic white persons, and few studies have attempted to examine the interaction between race and residential neighborhood socioeconomic measures on homicide risk. This population-based retrospective study comprised all white, black, and Hispanic 15-to 44-year-old men included in the 1990 US Census as Rhode Island or Massachusetts residents. Vital statistics registries were linked to 1990 US Census data to provide information on small-area characteristics. Overall, we observed a trend of increasing homicide risk as block-group socioeconomic position descended. The data indicated that block-group poverty, female-headed households, home ownership, and higher education were all strongly associated with homicide risk after stratifying by race and age of victim and adjusting for other block-group socioeconomic characteristics. Race was a strong modifier for absolute risk difference for the relation between risk of homicide and socioeconomic surroundings. Our analyses suggested that area-based interventions that would improve neighborhood social and economic conditions would be effective in decreasing risk of homicide for men.

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Correspondence to Annie Gjelsvik PhD.

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Gjelsvik, A., Zierler, S. & Blume, J. Homicide risk across race and class: a small-area analysis in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. J Urban Health 81, 702–718 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1093/jurban/jth152

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