2021:Disorder or Disadvantage: Investigating the Tension between Neighborhood Social Structure and the Physical Environment on Local Violence.
A renewed interest in understanding the relationship of the built environment with neighborhood crime patterns has encouraged researchers to utilize novel methods (e.g., risk terrain modeling) to better examine the influence of environmental risk factors on types of crime. The current study engages with this research by operationalizing neighborhoods using Hipp and Boessen’s (2013) egohood strategy and using Drawve and colleagues (2016; Thomas & Drawve, 2018) ANROC measure to assess the relationship of a neighborhood's physical environment with its spatial vulnerability of experiencing a homicide. Findings demonstrate that the physical environment was a significant predictor of neighborhood homicide, however, social structural neighborhood characteristics were more important. This suggests crime prevention strategies like crime prevention though environmental design (CPTED) or blight remediation may provide prudent and straightforward methods to inhibit lethal violence in a community in the short run, but that addressing a neighborhood’s social structural characteristics may be more effective at reducing homicides in the long term.
Barton, Michael S., Matthew Valasik, and Elizabeth E. Brault. 2021. “Disorder or Disadvantage: Investigating the Tension between Neighborhood Social Structure and the Physical Environment on Local Violence.” Criminal Justice Review (Forthcoming).
2020: Evaluating Residential Segregation’s Relation to the Clustering of Poor Health across American Cities
Residential segregation by race/ethnicity is widely recognized as a leading source of health disparities. Not clear from past research, however, is the overall health burden cities face due to clustering brought about by segregation. This study builds on previous research by directly measuring how spatially unequal health outcomes are within segregated cities. Utilizing Census-tract data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 500 Cities project, we examine how different dimensions of spatial segregation are associated with the clustering of poor self-rated health in cities. We make novel usage of the Global Moran’s I statistic to measure the spatial clustering of poor health within cities. We find spatial segregation is associated with poor health clustering, but the race/ethnicity and dimension of segregation matter. Our study contributes to existing research on segregation and health by unpacking the localized associations of residential segregation with poor health clustering in U.S. cities.
Gibbons, Joseph, Tse-Chuan Yang, Elizabeth Brault and Michael Barton. 2020. "Evaluating Residential Segregation’s Relation to the Clustering of Poor Health across American Cities." International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17(11). doi: 10.339/ijerph17113910.
2019: 'Gentefication' in the Barrio: Examining the Relationship of Gentrification and Gang Homicide in East Los Angeles
Research has increasingly moved toward a consensus that violent crime declines as neighborhoods gentrify, yet some studies find the direction of this relationship varies by type of violent crime. This finding becomes even more important when connected with recent research that finds the structural influences of gang and non-gang homicide are disparate. The current study engages with research in each of these areas by examining the relationship of gentrification with levels of total, gang and non-gang homicide in LAPD’s Hollenbeck Community Policing Area. We find gentrification was not associated with variation in total or gang homicide, but was positively associated with non-gang homicide.
Barton, Michael S., Matthew A. Valasik, Elizabeth Brault, and George Tita. "“Gentefication” in the Barrio: Examining the Relationship between Gentrification and Homicide in East Los Angeles." Crime & Delinquency doi: 10.1177/0011128719860835.
2019:Forecasting Homicide in the Red Stick: Risk Terrain Modeling and the Spatial Influence of Urban Blight on Lethal Violence in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Incorporating features of the built environment, risk terrain modeling (RTM), is used to predict future criminal events in micro-units (i.e., city blocks). The current study examines the application of RTM to forecast homicide in the capital city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana while including a novel environmental risk factor, blighted properties. Based upon the extant literature and knowledge of the city, eighteen environmental risk factors are expected to spatially influence homicide. Results indicate that places most at risk of experiencing a homicide are located in areas where blighted properties are concentrated and in close proximity to convenience stores. RTM successfully identities and evaluates environmental risk factors that spatially influence lethal violence. Additionally, RTM is able to accurately forecast future acts of homicide. The results underscore how crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) and blight remediation could be utilized as straightforward and prudent strategies to reduce lethal violence.
Valasik, Matthew, Elizabeth E. Brault and Stephen M. Martinez. 2018. "Forecasting Homicide in the Red Stick: Risk Terrain Modeling and the Spatial Influence of Urban Blight on Lethal Violence in Baton Rouge, Louisiana." Social Science Research. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2018.12.023.
2018:Evaluating Gentrification's Relation to Neighborhood and City Health
Gentrification has been argued to contribute to urban inequalities, including those of health disparities. Extant research has yet to conduct a systematic study of gentrification’s relation with neighborhood health outcomes nationally. This gap is addressed in the current study through the utilization of census-tract data from the Center for Disease Control’s 500 Cities project, the 2000 Census and the 2010–2014 American Community Survey to examine how gentrification relates to local self-rated physical health in select cities across the United States. We examine gentrification’s association with neighborhood rates of poor self-rated physical health. We contextualize this relationship by evaluating gentrification’s relation with city-level self-rated health inequalities. We find gentrification was significantly and positively related with self-rated physical neighborhood health outcomes. However, the presence and magnitude of gentrification within a city was not associated with health outcomes for cities overall. Based on these findings, we argue that gentrification’s health benefits for cities are limited at best, though gentrification does not appear to be associated with deepening city-level health inequalities, either.
Gibbons, Joseph, Michael Barton and Elizabeth Brault. 2018. "Evaluating Gentrification’s Relation to Neighborhood and City Health." PLOS ONE 13(11):e0207432. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0207432.
2018:Religious Ecology, Floaters, and Crime: The Links Between Social Capital, Institutional Disengagement, and Homicide
We consider two distinct research streams in macro-criminology. The first is how religious ecology, articulated as bridging and bonding capital, is linked to the rates of violence. The second concerns how institutionally disconnected youth, known as “floaters,” are highly vulnerable to violence because they fall outside their community’s umbrella of social control. Using county-level data on religious ecology, institutional engagement, and violence, we connect the two ideas with the following theoretical story line. When a community’s religious ecology is characterized by more bonding capital (versus bridging capital), such places provided fewer institutional entry points for crime-prone youth, thus increasing the proportion of floaters in the area. Because these floaters lack institutional social control, we should observe higher rates of violence as a result. Our analysis offers a social control mechanism by which social capital influences the rates of violence at the macro-level. We discuss the implications of our findings.
Brault, Elizabeth E. and Edward S. Shihadeh. 2018. “Religious Ecology, Floaters and Crime: The Links Between Social Capital, Institutional Disengagement and Homicide.” Deviant Behavior 40(5):574-584. doi: 10.1080/01639625.2018.1431180
2017: European Population Decline and Refugee Policies: An Analysis of Resettlement by Nation
Over the last decade, there has been a growing trend of European nations with fertility rates below replacement levels, top-heavy population age structures, and, in turn, widespread natural population decrease. Meanwhile, the turmoil taking place in Syria has led leaders of nations around the world to host fleeing refugees. Many in the media claim these two components are connected—that is, those nations losing population seek refugees to resolve their crises. This article empirically tests whether the natural population change in thirty-three European nations is a significant predictor of the number of refugees the nation resettles.
Brault, Elizabeth E. 2017. “European Population Decline and Refugee Policies: An Analysis of Resettlement by Nation.” Perspectives on Global Development and Technology 16:69-84. doi: 10.1163/15691497-12341421.
*Cover photo by LSU.edu, property of Louisiana State University.