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Socioeconomic Dynamics of Neighborhoods and the Risk of Crime Victimization: A Multilevel Study of Improving, Declining, and Stable Areas in the Netherlands

JOHAN VAN WILSEM, KARIN WITTEBROOD and NAN DIRK DE GRAAF
Social Problems
Vol. 53, No. 2 (May 2006), pp. 226-247
DOI: 10.1525/sp.2006.53.2.226
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/sp.2006.53.2.226
Page Count: 22
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Socioeconomic Dynamics of Neighborhoods and the Risk of Crime Victimization: A Multilevel Study of Improving, Declining, and Stable Areas in the Netherlands
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Abstract

Changes in neighborhood status result primarily from the selective migration of income groups into and out of areas. These changes, in turn, are related to the chance of becoming the victim of a crime in a locality. Drawing on social disorganization theory, this study argues that victimization is more likely in disadvantaged neighborhoods as well as in neighborhoods where socioeconomic improvements are taking place. Gentrifying neighborhoods may suffer from social instability caused by the strong influx of new residents and from social heterogeneity, which is caused by the simultaneous presence of different income groups and, depending on local context, different ethnic groups. We test these hypotheses with Dutch victimization survey data among approximately 70,000 respondents, distributed across 2,500 neighborhoods within 500 municipalities in the Netherlands. The results show that, controlling for various individual, neighborhood, and city characteristics, intensive socioeconomic improvement of neighborhoods is related to higher victimization risk for theft, violence, and vandalism. In the Netherlands, high levels of residential instability in gentrifying areas are the mediating mechanism responsible for this relationship, while varying levels of ethnic and income heterogeneity are not. The results confirm that social disorganization is dependent not only upon the socioeconomic composition of neighborhoods, but also upon their socioeconomic dynamics.

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