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Spatial Dynamics of Alcohol Availability, Neighborhood Structure and Violent Crime

Dennis M. Gorman, Paul W. Speer, Paul J. Gruenewald, Erich W. Labouvie

Objective: This study examined the relationship between neighborhood social structure, alcohol outlet densities and violent crime in Camden, New Jersey. Method: Data pertaining to neighborhood social structure, violent crime and alcohol density were collected for 98 block groups, and analyzed using bivariate, multivariate and spatial analyses. Results: Each type of analysis showed that those areas with high alcohol outlet densities experienced more violent crime than low-density areas, after controlling for neighborhood social structure. In the multivariate regression analysis, alcohol outlet densities explained close to one fifth of the variability in violent crime rates across block groupsó more than any one of the neighborhood structural variables included in the analysis. These findings were replicated in the spatial analysis, which also showed that alcohol outlet densities contributed significantly to violent crime within target block groups but not in adjacent block groups. Conclusions: High alcohol outlet density is associated with high rates of violent crime in this urban community. Spatial analysis suggests that alcohol outlets elevate the rate of violent crime within the immediate neighborhood context, not in surrounding neighborhoods. (J. Stud. Alcohol 62: 628-636, 2001)