Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Sociology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Amie L. Nielsen

Second Committee Member

Olena P. Antonaccio

Third Committee Member

Roger Dunham

Fourth Committee Member

Shouraseni Sen Roy


In recent years, the United States has experienced increasing structural trends of steeply increasing crime rates in some urban neighborhoods and a widening gap in wealth and income inequality between social classes. The primary criminological theory applied to explain neighborhood crime rates is social disorganization theory, while the primary theory linking economic inequality to crime outcomes is institutional anomie theory. However, while there is an increasing trend in the literature towards integrating current theoretical perspectives to better explain macro-level crime, no integrated theoretical frameworks have been developed to explain neighborhood crime patterns applying social disorganization theory at the neighborhood-level and institutional anomie theory at the county-level. Yet, there are many points at which integration of these perspectives is possible and plausible. This dissertation contributes to the literature by first testing social disorganization theory with a nationally-representative sample of 9,593 neighborhoods and then conducting the largest sub-national test of institutional anomie theory to date with data from all 3,142 counties in the United States. Additionally, it contributes by developing and empirically testing an integrated theory of macro-level crime with a multilevel model of 9,365 neighborhoods nested within 83 urban U.S. counties. Finally, geospatial analysis methods are used to examine how social disorganization theory operates at the neighborhood-level in three cities characterized by low, moderate and high levels of economic inequality. The findings provide a comprehensive assessment of the effects of economic inequality on crime rates and show that strong noneconomic social institutions moderate this criminogenic effect. They also suggest that social disorganization and institutional anomie theories are supported with large, representative samples of neighborhoods and counties, and demonstrate that the proposed integrated theory receives tentative support when subjected to empirical testing.


neighborhood crime; social disorganization theory; institutional anomie theory; theoretical integration; multilevel modeling; geospatial analysis

Available for download on Saturday, May 02, 2020