Although the contemporary literature sometimes overstates the lack of attention paid to rural localities in community studies of crime, criminologists in the United States traditionally have focused solely on urban patterns and dynamics. The situation slowly began to change after 1980 as rural studies appeared with increasing frequency, a trend that accelerated after 1990 and has continued into the current decade. Although consequential insights have been generated into the similarities and differences in the manner and degree to which structural factors are related to rural and urban crime, it is not surprising that some significant questions have not yet received much attention given the relatively short period of intense interest.
The proposed research will utilize the Spatial Analysis of Crime in Appalachia: 1977-1996 dataset (ICPSR 3260) compiled and analyzed by James G. Cameron (2001) with funding from the National Institute of Justice (1999-LT-VX-0001) to address two issues. First, the study will classify the 399 Appalachian counties using the 10 rural-urban continuum codes developed by Butler and Beale (1994) on the basis of metropolitan/non-metropolitan distinctions, population size, and adjacency to metropolitan areas, and then examine the degree to which the urban/rural differences that have been reported in the literature persist when more finely delineated categorizations of the metropolitan/non-metropolitan distinction are used. Second, the Appalachian dataset provides UCR county crime counts for all index crimes on an annual basis from 1977-1996. The proposed research will capitalize on this unique strength by using orthogonal polynomial contrasts to decompose each county's temporal variation into constant, linear and quadratic trend components and use the associated coefficients as dependent variables in regression models that are disaggregated by the Butler and Beale codes. These models will be specified in accordance with the predictions of the social disorganization and concentrated disadvantage frameworks.
As is the case for violence prevention programs instituted in urban areas, many rural programs emphasize the role of local community dynamics. However, almost all of these activities have been designed and implemented on the basis of urban findings, especially those generated as part of OJJDP's Causes and Correlates of Delinquency project. The proposed research should contribute additional insights into the manner in which the factors emphasized by OJJDP are relevant to non-urban settings.