Environmental adversity and urban violence: a normative development approach

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Delaware
Objectives: One of the central concerns of developmental and life-course criminology is an understanding of risk factors for offending at different ages. Because interruptions in key life events can significantly alter normative development, it is critical to fully understand the sources of risk for healthy development. The present study moves life-course criminology in a slightly different direction, shifting analysis to the macro level, to examine the differential vulnerability of age cohorts to environmental adversity. This dissertation also recognizes that normative development is highly contextualized by a wealth of racial and ethnic differences. Methods: Using age- and race/ethnic-specific homicide rates at city-, county- and community-levels of aggregation, the differential vulnerability of age cohorts to environmental adversity is examined. Results: The impact of disadvantage on homicide is consistently high for youth and emerging adults, but wanes over older developmental stages of the life-course. The association between economic disadvantage and homicide over developmental stages of the life-course seems to cut across racial / ethnic lines. While the protective effects of recent immigration have been well documented in recent years, the evidence here suggests these effects are more pronounced for Blacks. Conclusions: By identifying and better understanding the role of macro predictors of crime by race/ethnic-specific developmental stages, the findings offer new insights for developmental and life-course theories of crime.