Crime Rates, Crime Spikes and Cardiovascular Health in an Urban Population

  • Christopher R. Browning
  • Kathleen A. Cagney
  • James Iveniuk


We draw on theories of neighborhood social organization and environmental stress in an effort to explain variation in cardiovascular risk in a large urban population. We focus on the role of rapid increases in the crime rate (“crime spikes”) in influencing an indicator of inflammatory processes related to cardiovascular health – C-reactive protein (CRP). Employing data from the Dallas Heart Study (2000–2002), a large-scale probability study of adults aged 18–65 years old, we examine the association between measures of census tract level burglary rates and CRP. Neighborhood fixed effects models reveal that both changes in the overall prior-year burglary rate and short-term change in the burglary rate between the first and last 6 months of the prior year are positively associated with CRP. Above a threshold of four burglaries per 1,000 population, a one burglary increase in the short-term burglary rate change measure is associated with a 9% increase in CRP, net of individual controls, time-invariant neighborhood characteristics, and calendar month. These findings offer additional evidence supporting the hypothesis that contextual stressors have implications for cardiovascular health and suggest that short-term changes in environmental stressors may independently shape health risk outcomes.


Census Tract Crime Rate Cardiovascular Health Collective Efficacy Neighborhood Environment 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher R. Browning
    • 1
  • Kathleen A. Cagney
    • 2
  • James Iveniuk
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of SociologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Sociology, Health Studies, and Comparative Human DevelopmentUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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