In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Community Change and Crime

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Data Sources
  • Neighborhoods
  • Change in Crime
  • Social Disorganization Theory
  • The Effect of Crime on Neighborhood Characteristics
  • Race and Crime
  • Unemployment and Crime
  • Residential Mobility and Crime
  • Property Values and Crime
  • Gentrification, Revitalization, and Crime
  • Businesses and Crime
  • Incarceration and Crime
  • Trajectory Methodology
  • Spatial Dynamics
  • Unit of Analysis
  • Seasonality and Crime
  • Deterrence and Crime
  • Public Policy Initiatives
  • Methodological Issues

Criminology Community Change and Crime
John R. Hipp, Alyssa Whitby Chamberlain
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 June 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 June 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0072


Community change and crime employs a dynamic perspective, linking ecological changes to changes in crime. More specifically, geographic places are considered entities that can change over time, and these changes can have important implications for various social and economic processes. Changes in a variety of structural characteristics have been linked to changes in crime, including economic and social resources, residential stability, immigration, and racial composition. Ecological changes are examined at both a micro and a macro level. Micro-level research may involve examining changes in an area as small as a street segment or as large as a neighborhood or police precinct area. Macro-level research may involve evaluating the impact of changes that occur across an entire city, county, or region. The issue of community change is further complicated when considering the fact that communities not only change over time, but the areas within which these communities are embedded are also changing, and these changes occur simultaneously. Variations in these surrounding areas may have a direct impact on levels of crime in a particular area. The growing evidence suggesting a link between neighborhood change and crime has also been applied to several policy initiatives. Programs such as Moving to Opportunity and Gautreaux are examples of such policies, in which inner-city residents are relocated to suburban areas with ample social and economic resources. The range of issues examined in the community change and crime literature is vast, but these studies provide a unique insight into understanding the role that the ecology of place plays in the amplification of crime.

General Overviews

A number of published texts and articles provide a general overview of the factors associated with neighborhood change, decline, and crime. Although not addressing crime specifically, Grigsby, et al. 1987 examines how changes in the socioeconomic structure of a neighborhood influence resident decision making and subsequently how those decisions translate into changes in the conditions of the neighborhood itself. Taub, et al. 1984 focuses on the consequences of the racial/ethnic composition of a neighborhood and how it changes over time. Bursik and Grasmick 1993 provides a general theoretical overview of the causes of neighborhood crime and examines specifically how fear of crime may result in dynamic neighborhood change. Fagan 2008 provides a comprehensive overview of various factors that may lead to neighborhood change and crime as well as a review of existing theory that may explain these mechanisms of change. Reiss and Tonry 1986 investigates variations in crime in different types of neighborhoods and analyzes the manner in which neighborhoods both influence and are influenced by crime.

  • Bursik, Robert J., Jr., and Harold G. Grasmick. 1993. Neighborhoods and crime: The dimensions of effective community control. New York: Lexington Books.

    Explains the linkages between social disorganization theory and neighborhoods and crime; examines how fear of crime is related to neighborhood dynamics and change.

  • Fagan, Jeffrey. 2008. Crime and neighborhood change. In Understanding crime trends. Edited by Arthur S. Goldberger and Richard Rosenfeld, 81–126. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

    Provides a review of research examining structural factors and processes that lead to changes in crime both within and between neighborhoods.

  • Grigsby, William, Morton Baratz, George Galster, and Duncan Maclennan. 1987. The dynamics of neighborhood change and decline. Progress in Planning 28:1–76.

    DOI: 10.1016/0305-9006(87)90011-0

    Overview and analysis of the economic and physical decline of urban neighborhoods in America.

  • Reiss, Albert, and Michael Tonry. 1986. Communities and crime. Crime and justice: An annual review of research. Vol. 8. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

    Examines the manner in which neighborhoods affect and are affected by crime, and discusses ways neighborhoods can alter crime patterns.

  • Taub, Richard P., D. Garth Taylor, and John Dunham. 1984. Paths of neighborhood change: Race and crime in urban America. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

    Studies eight neighborhoods in Chicago, with a survey of 400 respondents in each neighborhood.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.