Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

Both Sides of the Street: Introducing Measures of Physical and Social Boundaries Based on Differences Across Sides of the Street, and Consequences for Crime


Objectives: Although previous studies have theorized the importance of physical and social boundaries (edges) in understanding crime in place, the relationship between edges and the level of crime has been less studied empirically. The current study examines the effects of physical and social boundaries on crime in street segments. Methods: To empirically measure boundaries, we introduce an approach of looking at the differences of land use (physical boundary), socioeconomic status, or racial composition (social boundaries) on both sides of a street segment. We estimated a series of negative binomial regression models in which measures of the physical and social boundaries are included while controlling for the effects of structural characteristic and the conventional physical boundary measures of highways, parks, and rivers. Results: We observed that there are positive relationships between all three of these boundary measures and violent and property crimes. The results indicated that physical and social boundaries are important to consider in understanding the spatial patterns of crime. Moreover, the current study confirmed the moderating effects between social and physical boundaries. Conclusions: Our results indicate that although much empirical research focuses solely on physical boundaries, our measures of social and physical boundaries have important consequences for the spatial location of crime, and therefore are worthy of further research.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View