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Is Job Accessibility Relevant to Crime Patterns? A GIS Approach, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2001
58 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of a study that examined whether physical access to feasible jobs in local employment markets affects crime rates.
Economists and criminologists have long attempted to establish links between job markets and crime; however, most prior research used large areas such as the whole Nation, States, metropolitan areas, or counties to identify job markets. Such large units are heterogeneous, and there may be more variation within such units than between them. Using data from the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data and other public sources, the current research used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to measure job accessibility and various crime patterns in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1980 and 1990. Crime variables measured included rates for auto thefts, burglaries, homicides, rapes, robberies, drug sale or possession, and delinquency filings in juvenile court for each year during 1980-89. Data needed for defining job accessibility were extracted from the 1980 Urban Transportation Planning Package and the 1990 Census for Transportation Planning Package. Both were aggregated at the level of Traffic Analysis Zone (TAZ), a geographical unit even smaller than the census tract. In determining whether the variation in crime rates and the variation in employment access were related to one another, the study regressed various measures of the crime rate on employment access by census tract. In order to control for spatial autocorrelation among observations (n=193), a spatially lagged dependent variable was introduced. Based on the data analysis, the study concluded that access to employment did apparently have a significant relationship to crime in Cleveland in 1980 and 1990. The relationship was strongest for economic crimes, somewhat weaker for crimes of violence and drug offenses, and insignificant for delinquency. Should these findings be replicated in other cities, the implication is that policymakers should explore means of improving access to realistic employment, particularly for residents of communities in which access to legitimate jobs is limited. Some suggestions are offered for how to do this. 9 tables, 14 figures, and 89 references

Date Published: December 1, 2001