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Journal ArticleDOI

Where they live and go: Immigrant ethnic activity space and neighborhood crime in Southern California

01 Sep 2019-Journal of Criminal Justice (Pergamon)-Vol. 64, pp 1-12

AbstractThe current study advances the literature by simultaneously accounting for the geographic location of immigrant residences and the location of ethnic businesses, and considers their proximity to one another. We argue our alternative measure, which we term Immigrant Ethnic Activity Space (IEAS), more fully captures the ecology of immigrant communities. Using data from several sources to capture neighborhoods in the Southern California region, we constructed IEAS measures for the seven largest ethnic groups in the region, including groups from Mexico, China, Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Armenia, and El Salvador. These measures reflect where immigrants live and where they go for various ethnic-related routine activities, as well as the distance between the two. We estimated a set of negative binomial regression models to examine the effects of the IEAS measures on neighborhood violent and property crime rates. We find that our IEAS approach is distinct from traditionally-employed measures of immigrant neighborhoods. We also find that IEAS measures have negative associations with both violent and property crime, in general. The current study proposes and develops an alternative approach to conceptualizing immigrant neighborhoods, which more closely aligns with extant theory and should be considered in future research on the immigration-crime nexus.

Topics: Property crime (53%)

Summary (2 min read)

Introduction

  • Ethnic/immigrant enclaves largely shape the routine activity patterns of immigrants because they provide the various institutions and services needed by immigrants with fewer cultural burdens and language barriers (Breton 1964; Aldrich and Waldinger 1990; Zhou 2004).
  • This discussion highlights the need to conceptualize immigrant neighborhoods by incorporating information on residential locations, routine activities of immigrants driven by ethnic businesses, and the distance between residences and businesses to more accurately examine the association between immigration and crime in neighborhoods.
  • The null or negative effect of immigrant concentration on neighborhood crime may be explained by the tenets of social disorganization theory and the mechanism of informal social control.
  • Residents develop daily routine activities based on different locations.

Data and Method

  • Independent Variables – Constructing the IEAS The Southern California region (Counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego) is a diverse region with many immigrant populations from different countries.
  • To measure immigrant-ethnic activity space, the authors combined data on business establishments in 2011 from Reference USA and data on the residential locations of immigrant groups from the Census 2009-2013 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates.
  • The authors created the IEAS index for each of the seven ethnic groups; these seven measures were included in separate regression models (although they later estimated a model with all included simultaneously, as described in footnote 8).
  • That is, if either one of the two has zero value, the raw IEAS score can be zero too.
  • Crime events were geocoded for each city separately to latitude–longitude point locations using ArcGIS 10.2, and subsequently aggregated to the Census Tract level.

Analytic Strategy

  • Because the dependent variables are counts of crime events, their distributions are unlikely to be normal.
  • The authors included population as an exposure term in all models and constrained the coefficient to equal 1, which effectively makes the outcomes crime rates.
  • These measures were created based on an inverse distance decay function with a cutoff at 5 miles around each tract.
  • Including spatially lagged independent variables in the models is a conventional way to account for spatial effects if theoretically justified (Anselin 2002; Florax and Folmer 1992), and the authors follow extant research and include spatially lagged independent variables (Bernasco and Block, 2011; Haberman and Ratcliffe, 2015; Kubrin and Hipp, 2014).
  • The third set of models introduce their IEAS index measures, allowing us to compare results using their IEAS index to results obtained from the more traditional measures of immigrant population based on residence or on the location of ethnic business.

Results

  • First, the authors assessed whether there are meaningful differences between their immigrant- ethnic activity space index and more traditional measures of immigrant concentration.
  • These ranges suggest that although the immigrant-ethnic activity space index shares some aspects of the measures for presence of immigrants and ethnic businesses in a neighborhood (which is not surprising given that the index is computed based on a multiplicative combination of these two components), it nonetheless appears to be distinct from these traditional measures.
  • The authors found that for nearly all groups, one-half or less of immigrants live in such high business tracts.
  • Figure 1 reinforces their belief that the IEAS approach is distinct from the traditional approaches.
  • Likewise, Korean immigrant activity space appears to be located mostly around the areas traditionally known as Koreatown in Los Angeles while some cities in northern Orange County also show a higher density of Korean immigrant activity space (i.e., Fullerton and Buena Park).

IEAS and neighborhood crime

  • The authors now turn to results from the regression models predicting crime.
  • The authors begin with their baseline models using the common approach in the literature of including only a measure of the percent of the tract population that is foreign born for each of seven ethnic groups (Columns 1 and 4 in Table 3).
  • Likewise, a one standard deviation increase in the presence of Vietnamese immigrants leads to about 3 and 6 percent decreases in the risk of violent and property crime in tracts, respectively.
  • The authors tested possible non-linear relationships by including squared and cubic terms for each of the IEAS measures but they do not find any statistically significant quadratic effects.
  • Specifically, IEAS measures have stronger negative effects on violent and property crime than do the models including the percent immigrants by groups and have opposite signs of coefficients compared to the models with the number of ethnic businesses.

Discussion and Conclusion

  • Most studies define immigrant neighborhoods based on immigrant residential population (i.e., percent foreign born).
  • Building upon the immigration-crime nexus and ethnic enclave literature, in the current study the authors introduced an alternative conception of immigrant neighborhoods by simultaneously incorporating where immigrants live, where they go for activities, and the movement patterns between the two, which they termed Immigrant-Ethnic Activity Space (IEAS).
  • The authors estimated a model including all seven ethnic group IEAS measures simultaneously.
  • Across all ethnic groups, their results showed that the IEAS index is either negatively associated with violent and property crime rates or has a null effect.
  • Indeed, a recent study confirmed that researchers should be careful when choosing the type of distance when computing distance based measures (Kane and Kim 2018).

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UC Irvine
UC Irvine Previously Published Works
Title
Where they live and go: Immigrant ethnic activity space and neighborhood crime in
Southern California
Permalink
https://escholarship.org/uc/item/3h32p8r4
Authors
Kim, YA
Hipp, JR
Kubrin, CE
Publication Date
2019-09-01
DOI
10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2019.05.004
Peer reviewed
eScholarship.org Powered by the California Digital Library
University of California

Immigrant-ethnic activity space
1
Where They Live and Go:
Immigrant Ethnic Activity Space and Neighborhood Crime in Southern California
Young-An Kim*
John R. Hipp
Charis E. Kubrin
May 24, 2019
Post-print. Published in Journal of Criminal Justice 2019 64(1): 1-12
Running Head: “Immigrant-ethnic activity space
*College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida State University. Address correspondence
to Young-An Kim, College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida State University, 308
Eppes Hall, 112 S. Copeland Street, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1273; email: ykim16@fsu.edu

Immigrant-ethnic activity space
2
Where They Live and Go:
Immigrant Ethnic Activity Space and Neighborhood Crime in Southern California
Abstract
The current study advances the literature by simultaneously accounting for the
geographic location of immigrant residences and the location of ethnic businesses, and considers
their proximity to one another. We argue our alternative measure, which we term Immigrant
Ethnic Activity Space (IEAS), more fully captures the ecology of immigrant communities. Using
data from several sources to capture neighborhoods in the Southern California region, we
constructed IEAS measures for the seven largest ethnic groups in the region, including groups
from Mexico, China, Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Armenia, and El Salvador. These measures
reflect where immigrants live and where they go for various ethnic-related routine activities, as
well as the distance between the two. We estimated a set of negative binomial regression models
to examine the effects of the IEAS measures on neighborhood violent and property crime rates.
We find that our IEAS approach is distinct from traditionally-employed measures of immigrant
neighborhoods. We also find that IEAS measures have negative associations with both violent
and property crime, in general. The current study proposes and develops an alternative approach
to conceptualizing immigrant neighborhoods, which more closely aligns with extant theory and
should be considered in future research on the immigration-crime nexus.
Keywords: Immigrant, Activity space, Crime, Neighborhood

Immigrant-ethnic activity space
3
Bio
Young-An Kim is an Assistant Professor in the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at
Florida State University. His research interests focus on various areas such as neighborhoods and
crime, criminology of place, geo-spatial analysis, and immigration and crime. Besides
criminology, he is interested in sociology of health, urban sociology, and quantitative research
methods.
John R. Hipp is a Professor in the departments of Criminology, Law and Society, and
Sociology, at the University of California Irvine. His research interests focus on how
neighborhoods change over time, how that change both affects and is affected by neighborhood
crime, and the role networks and institutions play in that change. He approaches these questions
using quantitative methods as well as social network analysis. He has published substantive
work in such journals as American Sociological Review, Criminology, Social Forces, Social
Problems, Mobilization, City & Community, Urban Studies and Journal of Urban Affairs. He
has published methodological work in such journals as Sociological Methodology, Psychological
Methods, and Structural Equation Modeling.
Charis E. Kubrin is a professor of Criminology, Law & Society (and by courtesy Sociology) at
the University of California, Irvine. She has published extensively in the area of neighborhoods
and crime, and in particular, on the immigration-crime link.

Immigrant-ethnic activity space
4
Where They Live and Go:
Immigrant Ethnic Activity Space and Neighborhood Crime in Southern California
Introduction
Over the last few decades, a substantial body of literature has developed that examines
how immigration and crime are related across place, including a recent meta-analysis of this
published literature Ousey and Kubrin (2018). A common feature of nearly all studies is that they
define immigrant neighborhoods based on an area’s residential population. That is, studies
measure the percent immigrants residing in a location to capture the presence of immigrant
communities. Although not an unreasonable strategy, this approach pays little attention to the
places where immigrants work, shop, and attend social events and religious services. Little
consideration has been given to whether this is the ideal way to conceptualize and measure
immigrant neighborhoods.
In contrast to the criminological literature, the literature on ethnic enclaves often defines
immigrant communities based on both where immigrants reside and where they work, shop, and
perform other activities (Wilson and Portes 1980; Portes and Manning 1986; Portes and
Rumbaut 2014). In the ethnic enclave literature, there is typically a presumption of geographic
proximity between these locations. However, this need not always be the case, and it remains an
empirical question as to whetherand what extentthese are intersecting and overlapping
spaces. Nonetheless, the portrayal of immigrant communities in the ethnic enclave literature may
be more in line with an ideal type of ethnic enclave, i.e., the apocryphal Chinatown, Koreatown,
Little Saigon, etc. (Wilson and Portes 1980; Portes and Manning 1986, 2005; Portes and
Rumbaut 2014; Portes and Jensen 1992). At the same time, this ideal community type may be a
statistical rarity, and may not capture the typical environment of immigrants of various groups

Citations
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Dissertation
06 Dec 2019
Abstract: We empirically evaluate the distribution of spatial patterns at the census tract (CT) level for various immigration and property crime measures in Vancouver, British Columbia, 2003 and 2016, using a spatial point pattern test that identifies significant similarities, or otherwise, in the spatial patterns of: (a) multiple measures of immigration (b) various property crime classifications (c) immigration and crime patterns together. Results show local-level variations in the spatial concentration of immigration in Vancouver CTs. The use of multiple measures of immigration showed substantive variations of immigrant settlement at the local-level. Moreover, results reveal that while immigrant concentration patterns are stable over time and, thus, demonstrate ecological stability, property crime patterns shift from year to year. The spatial analytic approach utilized in this study provide support for the use of local-level spatial models and the multi-dimensional operationalization of the immigration variable. There is heterogeneity among immigrant groups, an important yet often overlooked aspect in assessments of immigration effects on crime.

12 citations


Posted Content
Abstract: A large number of Koreans have been admitted to the United States as legal immigrants since the change in the immigration law in 1965. A significant proportion of the new Korean immigrants have settled in Los Angeles. As a result, the Los Angeles Korean community, the home of some 200,000 Koreans, has become not only the largest Korean center in the United States but also the largest overseas Korean center. This paper provides an overview of Korean immigrants and the Korean community in Los Angeles. It focuses on Koreatown, Korean immigrant entrepreneurship, and Koreans’ ethnic attachment and solidarity in Los Angeles. Interviews with some 500 Korean immigrants in Los Angeles were used as the major data source for this paper. It also depends upon public documents, ethnic directories, ethnic newspaper articles, and previously published materials by other scholars for information on Koreans in Los Angeles.

6 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: The immigration-crime nexus has been the subject of much empirical attention and research findings consistently indicate that neighborhoods with large immigrant populations exhibit comparatively lo...

3 citations


Cites background from "Where they live and go: Immigrant e..."

  • ...…such as lack of employment opportunities, relatively lower wages for the same amount of work, low education attainment, language barriers, and more constricted patterns of structural integration (Alba & Nee, 1997; Feldmeyer, 2009; Kim et al., 2019; Sanders & Nee, 1987; Saporu et al., 2011)....

    [...]

  • ...Similarly, some assert that immigrant concentration in specific areas such as in neighborhoods marked by racial/ethnic segregation or disadvantaged areas could be linked to other disadvantages such as lack of employment opportunities, relatively lower wages for the same amount of work, low education attainment, language barriers, and more constricted patterns of structural integration (Alba & Nee, 1997; Feldmeyer, 2009; Kim et al., 2019; Sanders & Nee, 1987; Saporu et al., 2011)....

    [...]

  • ...…the conventional notion, a handful of studies have examined the unique effects of immigration in specific racial/ethnic enclaves on crime (Feldmeyer & Steffensmeier, 2009; Herzog, 2009; Kim et al., 2019; Kubrin et al., 2018; Kubrin & Ishizawa, 2012; Ramey, 2013; Saporu et al., 2011; Sydes, 2017)....

    [...]

  • ...In extension to the conventional notion, a handful of studies have examined the unique effects of immigration in specific racial/ethnic enclaves on crime (Feldmeyer & Steffensmeier, 2009; Herzog, 2009; Kim et al., 2019; Kubrin et al., 2018; Kubrin & Ishizawa, 2012; Ramey, 2013; Saporu et al., 2011; Sydes, 2017)....

    [...]

  • ...For example, Kim et al. (2019) measured immigrants’ daily activity patterns and identified new boundaries of neighborhoods for immigrants....

    [...]




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