Interracial face-to-face crimes and the socioeconomics of neighborhoods: Evidence from policing records

Abstract

Using a novel data set comprising the universe of reported crimes to the Los Angeles Police Department from 2000 to 2007, we examine race victimization patterns among face-to-face crimes at the neighborhood level. While some of our findings support previous work, others challenge previous research and general expectations about race and crime. Contrary to victimization patterns observed in the aggregate data, our panel data models identify consistent patterns of reported violence committed by White individuals against Blacks and Hispanics across neighborhoods. Specifically, in the presence of controls for neighborhood and time effects, Whites are more likely to assault and use weapons against Blacks and Hispanics than Blacks and Hispanics are to assault or use weapons against Whites. On the other hand, Blacks and Hispanics are typically more likely to commit robbery (crimes which we characterize as being often related to economic motives) against Whites than the reverse. We estimate these effects across the racial composition and earnings distribution of neighborhoods in Los Angeles County and find significant heterogeneity in the propensity for certain types of crimes to occur as a function of the race/ethnic match of suspect and victim.

JEL classification

K4
J1
R3
I3

Keywords

Victimization
Inequality
Race
Ethnicity and social distance