Investigating the Influence of Neighborhood Context on Levels of Violence in Medellín and Chicago

Magdalena Cerda, University of Michigan
Jeffrey D. Morenoff, University of Michigan

Limited information exists about ways communities impact violence in developing countries. We tested the association between neighborhood characteristics and violence by using a household survey of 2495 respondents in 166 neighborhoods in Medellín, Colombia, and 3094 respondents in 342 neighborhoods in Chicago, USA. In Chicago, poverty and lower collective efficacy were predictive of higher perceptions of violence and rates of homicide. In Medellín, collective efficacy was more pronounced in contexts of high disadvantage and was associated with higher levels of perceived violence and homicide. We also found significant interactions between neighborhood collective efficacy and poverty in both cities. Higher levels of collective efficacy were associated with higher homicide in high-poverty neighborhoods in both sites. In Chicago, collective efficacy was only protective against higher levels of perceived violence in low-poverty neighborhoods. The study questions the notion of "social organization" as a homogeneously beneficial process across cultural and socioeconomic contexts.

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Presented in Session 162: Neighborhood Effects on Health