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Industrial Shift, Polarized Labor Markets and Urban Violence: Modeling the Dynamics Between the Economic Transformation and Disaggreated Homicide

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 42 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2004 Pages: 619-645
Date Published
August 2004
27 pages

This study examined the relationship between industrial restructuring and urban homicides from 1980 to 1990.


Industrial restructuring since the 1970’s has resulted in the concentration of disadvantage and violence within urban areas, as well as the polarization of the workforce and higher unemployment rates. The decline in manufacturing jobs resulted in fewer employment opportunities for minorities and a more gender-segregated labor market. The current study examined whether this industrial restructuring contributed to the increase in urban violence over the 10-year study period, 1980 to 1990. The author employed a multivariate change model that captured the shift in labor force sectors and disaggregated homicides over the study period in order to estimate the impact of industrial restructuring on disaggregated homicides. Race- and gender-specific characteristics in labor market indicators were included in the analysis independent of concentrated disadvantage. The effect of labor market polarization and industrial restructuring on changes in homicide offending was estimated for specific groups: White males, Black males, White females, and Black females. Data were drawn from the Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR), the 1980 and 1990 Census of Population: Social and Economic Characteristics, the Census of State Adult Correctional Facilities (1979), and the Census of State and Federal Adult Correctional Facilities (1990). Dependent variables were single offender/single victim murders and non-negligent manslaughters. Independent variables included race- and gender-specific measures of industrial restructuring and labor market stratification, race-specific measures of poverty and income inequality, Black concentration, measures of formal social control, and measures of social disorganization. Results of multivariate analyses indicated that the industrial shift did impact urban homicide over the 10-year study period. The loss of manufacturing jobs in urban areas had a distinct impact on disadvantaged Blacks, and ultimately, on the change in Black gender-specific homicides. Future research should focus on possible interrelationships between formal social control, informal social control, and urban violence. Tables, references, appendix

Date Published: August 1, 2004