Race-Ethnicity, Census Places, and Violent Crime: Expanding the Racial Invariance Hypothesis to include white-Latino and black-Latino Comparisons

Project: Research project

Project Details




This project seeks to expand knowledge on the race/ethnicity-crime relationship and on Latino crime in particular with a design that captures a variety of socioeconomic and community-level contextual characteristics. Using violence data from three large states (California, New York, Pennsylvania), disaggregated by race-ethnicity (white, black, Latino), and using census places as the unit of analysis, three key questions are addressed: 1) Do structural factors and community characteristics have uniform effects on racially disaggregated violence rates (i.e., on Latino rates, on black rates, and on white rates)? 2) To what extent do structural factors or contextual characteristics explain white-Latino, black-Latino, and black-white differences in violence rates? 3) To what degree do structural factors render spurious the effects of racial/ethnic composition (percent black, percent Latino) on overall rates of violence across census places? These questions adjoin two of the most important substantive and theoretical issues facing sociology and law/criminology. The first is whether, and to what extent, race and ethnicity are related to violent crime. The second involves the racial invariance hypothesis about whether, and to what extent, spatial or community-level characteristics hypothesized to influence violent crime have the same effects on blacks whites, and Latinos, or any race-ethnic group. Broader impacts of the project adjoin larger societal concerns as well as broad substantive interests within law, sociology, criminology, and public health, fields which have longstanding interests in stratification and racial inequality and their effects on various markers of social and economic well being. The ability to tie race/ethnicity to variation in violent crime, and to the structural sources of that variation, is important for guiding future theoretical and research efforts aimed at understanding and ameliorating group differences in crime.

Effective start/end date9/15/078/31/11


  • National Science Foundation: $261,592.00


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