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Social Disorganization Outside the Metropolis: An Analysis of Rural Youth Violence

NCJ Number
D. Wayne Osgood; Jeff M. Chambers
Date Published
49 pages
Structural correlates of arrest rates for juvenile violence in 264 non-metropolitan counties of four States were analyzed in order to extend the study of community social disorganization and crime beyond its exclusive focus on large urban centers.
It was hypothesized that rates of juvenile violence would be positively related to residential instability, ethnic heterogeneity, family disruption, low economic status, and population density, and that rates of juvenile violence would be higher in communities closer to urban areas. The 264 counties were located in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Nebraska. Findings supported the generality of social disorganization theory. Juvenile violence was associated with residential instability, family disruption, and ethnic heterogeneity. Although poverty rates were not related to juvenile violence, this was also in accord with social disorganization theory because, unlike urban settings, poverty was negatively related to residential instability. Rates of juvenile violence varied markedly with population size through a curvilinear relationship in which counties with the smallest juvenile populations had exceptionally low arrest rates. The analysis used binomial regression because there were few arrests in many counties and arrest rates would be ill-suited to least squares regression. An appendix contains data on partial correlations among explanatory variables, controlling for differences between States. 65 references, 7 notes, 3 tables, and 1 figure