Awarded New Investigator/Doctoral Dissertation Grant


It is known that violence has a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities, but it is not yet understood why minority populations are particularly vulnerable to violent victimization. Most of the prior research on the risk and protective factors for youth violence has focused on individual-level indicators such as the youths’ familial, social, and psychological status. This project however, takes a different approach by focusing on structural characteristics of the community and social environment that are associated with youth violence and victimization. In particular, this study will examine how changes in the local housing market and shifts in the racial and ethnic composition of neighborhoods impact youth violence. The results will indicate if these community changes differentially impact minority neighborhoods or the racial/ethnic composition of the victim-offender dyad. The primary goals of this project are: (1) Examine the relationship between changes in the neighborhood economy and residential stability, as represented by changes in the average sale price of single family residences and the volume of home sales, shifts in the racial and ethnic composition of communities, and the rate of youth violence; (2) Test whether this relationship is consistent across different types of communities based on the racial and ethnic composition of the neighborhood; (3) Compare the effects of changes in the housing market and racial and ethnic composition on intra- versus interracial or interethnic violence. Longitudinal analysis on neighborhoods in south Los Angeles will be performed using housing, crime, and demographic data from 2000 to 2005. Though LA is an ethnically diverse, yet relatively segregated city, the racial and ethnic composition of communities is shifting as white Latino residents replace African Americans, particularly in south LA. Residents in these neighborhoods are often the most exposed to violence, as south LA has traditionally had one of the city’s biggest crime problems. By understanding how fluctuations in the stability and residential composition of neighborhoods impacts safety and violence, we can develop effective, informed, policy options that more suitably consider the effects of neighborhood structure, housing, racial and ethnic environment, and residential stability on youth violence prevention.