The influence of social and economic disadvantage on racial patterns in youth homicide over time
Explanations for the increase in youth homicide in the mid-1980s and early 1990s focus predominantly on crack cocaine markets and related firearms effects. This study examines whether weakened social controls contributed to the escalation of youth homicide, independent of drug market effects. Specifically, the authors consider how city-level changes in social and economic disadvantage contributed to increases in race-specific youth homicide victimization. They find that structural factors played an important role in race- and age-specific youth homicide rates, independent of others factors, including drug arrests. City-level increases in social and economic disadvantage were positively associated with increases in Black teenage and young adult homicide rates and White teenage homicide rates. The implications of these findings for theories of homicide are discussed.