Academic Publications

Beyond Race: Unemployment, Income, and Stress as Predictors of Crime

Sven Smith | Christopher J. Ferguson | Howard Henderson

Summary

This article examines common social contexts related to crime rates in four U.S. cities with high violent crime: Houston, Baltimore, Jackson, and Wilmington. Using county-level data, the researchers found these cities had higher rates of certain public health issues like STDs, sleep deprivation, and air pollution compared to national averages. The cities also had more single-parent households, income inequality, segregation, and housing cost burdens. At the neighborhood level, factors like unemployment, income, and community stress correlated with crime rates. While the cities had larger Black populations, race itself did not directly correlate with crime when accounting for economic factors.

Key Takeaways

  • The cities had higher rates of STDs, sleep deprivation, and air pollution compared to national averages.
  • Single-parent households were more common in the cities.
  • Income inequality and housing cost burdens were prevalent in the cities.
  • Racial segregation between Black and White residents was higher in the cities.
  • At the neighborhood level, economic factors, not race, correlated with crime rates.