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Who Leaves and Who Enters? Flow Measures of Neighborhood Change and Consequences for Neighborhood Crime


Objectives: Longitudinal studies of the relationship between neighborhood change and changes in crime typically focus exclusively on the net level of change in key socio-demographic characteristics. Methods: We instead propose a demographic accounting strategy that captures the composition of neighborhood change: our measures capture which types of people are more likely to leave, stay, or enter the neighborhood. We use data for 3,325 tracts in the Southern California region over nearly two decades of 2000–2010 and 2010–2017 and construct flow measures based on race/ethnicity; the length of residence of owners and renters; the age structure. Results: These flow measures improve the predictive power of the models—implying important theoretical insights. Neighborhoods with higher percentages of middle-aged residents who recently entered the neighborhood exhibit larger increases in violent and property crime. The relative stability of those in the highest crime-prone ages (aged 15–29) is associated with the largest increases in violent and property crime. The greater loss of Black and Asian residents decreased crime while moderate outflows of Latinos increased crime. The mobility of long- and short-term renters was related to crime changes. Conclusions: This new technique will likely encourage further theoretical innovation for the neighborhoods and crime literature.

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