20855197 - Applied Economics Letters, 2006, 13, 341345...

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Applied Economics Letters , 2006, 13 , 341–345 Crime and community heterogeneity: race, ethnicity, and religion Michelle W. Trawick* and Roy M. Howsen Western Kentucky University, 1906 College Heights Blvd, Bowling Green, KY 42101, USA Prior studies have explored the relationship between race and religion and their effect on various crimes. In the USA race is typically defined as the proportion of a community that is African-American or nonwhite. Likewise, religion is defined as the proportion of a community that adheres to any religious denomination. This study extends earlier work by employing Herfindahl indices as measures of community homogeneity with respect to race and ethnicity as well as religious denominations. It also measures religiosity based on four different denominational groups, rather than religiosity as an aggregate. Results indicate that as a community’s degree of homogeneity increases, in terms of both race/ethnicity and religion, crime decreases; and that the effects of religion on crime may vary by denomination. I. Crime and Community Heterogeneity: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion Various authors within the economics and sociology research literature have investigated the relationship between economic and sociologic factors and crime rates (Becker, 1968; Elliott and Ellingworth, 1998; Macdonald, 2000; Cantor and Land, 2001; Greenberg, 2001; Narayan and Smyth, 2004). Economic factors can be classified according to the following vectors of independent variables: prob- ability of apprehension effects, opportunity cost of incarceration effects and the potential gains of criminal activity effects. Typically, the probability of apprehension effects and the opportunity cost of incarceration effects are inversely related to crime rates, while the potential gain of criminal activity effects is directly related to crime rates. Alternatively, the sociology literature tends to emphasize crime within a social context, i.e., social disorganization theory, subculture theory, and social control theory. These theories suggest that crime increases when a community’s level of social control is weakened. Two factors that affect the level of social control within a community are the degrees of racial and ethnic homogeneity and religiosity. This note advances the understanding of criminal behaviour by controlling for a community’s racial and ethnic homogeneity, religious homogeneity, and religious denominational differences using measures not employed in prior studies that examine criminal behaviour. Within the context of racial and ethnic homo- geneity, social disorganization theory suggests that cooperative social relationships are the result of a feeling of being connected to others in a traditional community. Subculture theory is defined as a group that has adopted its own principles and tenets within the traditional community. This type of group is a result of community members who do not feel *Corresponding author. E-mail: Michelle.Trawick@wku.edu Applied Economics Letters ISSN 1350–4851 print/ISSN 1466–4291 online ß 2006 Taylor & Francis 341 http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals DOI: 10.1080/13504850500395324
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accepted by and connected to a conventional society.
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course AAP 1101 taught by Professor Aapfaculty during the Fall '08 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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20855197 - Applied Economics Letters, 2006, 13, 341345...

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