Neighborhood racial/ethnic concentration, social disadvantage, and homicide risk: An ecological analysis of 10 U.S. cities

Rhonda Jones-Webb, Melanie Wall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Homicide is one of the leading causes of death among African-American and Hispanic men. We investigated how neighborhood characteristics associated with social disadvantage explain racial/ethnic homicide gaps in 10 U.S. cities. The test hypotheses were that (1) higher concentrations of African-Americans and Hispanics would be associated with higher homicide rates and (2) the relationship between racial/ethnic concentration and homicide would be attenuated after adjusting for neighborhood characteristics (e.g., unemployment, median household income, low educational attainment, and female headship). The test hypotheses were examined using separate Poisson regression models, which adjusted for spatial autocorrelation. Homicide rates were greater in neighborhoods with higher concentrations of African-Americans and Hispanics than in other groups, and the association of neighborhood racial/ethnic concentration with homicide was reduced after adjusting for neighborhood social disadvantage variables, especially percent female head of household and percent persons with less than a high school education. We also found that the relationship between neighborhood racial/ethnic concentration and homicide was explained more by social disadvantage variables in some cities than in others. Based on our findings, policy makers may wish to consider implementation of policies that (1) expand early childhood education programs and higher education opportunities and (2) encourage economic and community development initiatives in socially disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)662-676
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study (R01 AA13839) was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Rhonda Jones-Webb, Principal Investigator.


  • African-American
  • Asian
  • Hispanic
  • Homicide
  • Racial/ethnic concentration
  • Social disadvantage


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