Poisson-Based Regression Analysis of Aggregate Crime Rates

D. Wayne Osgood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

825 Scopus citations


This article introduces the use of regression models based on the Poisson distribution as a tool for resolving common problems in analyzing aggregate crime rates. When the population size of an aggregate unit is small relative to the offense rate, crime rates must be computed from a small number of offenses. Such data are ill-suited to least-squares analysis. Poisson-based regression models of counts of offenses are preferable because they are built on assumptions about error distributions that are consistent with the nature of event counts. A simple elaboration transforms the Poisson model of offense counts to a model of per capita offense rates. To demonstrate the use and advantages of this method, this article presents analyses of juvenile arrest rates for robbery in 264 nonmetropolitan counties in four states. The negative binomial variant of Poisson regression effectively resolved difficulties that arise in ordinary least-squares analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-43
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Quantitative Criminology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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