Socioeconomic Dynamics of Neighbourhoods and the Risk of Crime Victimization in the Netherlands
This study systematically addresses the relationship between gentrificationand local crime victimization in the Netherlands. It evaluates how socioeconomicchange relates to the risk of theft, violence, and vandalism in theneighbourhood.
Changes in neighbourhood status result primarily from the selective migrationof income groups into and out of areas. These changes, in turn, are related tothe chance of becoming the victim of a crime in a locality. Drawing on socialdisorganization theory, this study argues that victimization is more likely indisadvantaged neighbourhoods as well as in neighbourhoods where socioeconomicimprovements are taking place. Gentrifying neighbourhoods may suffer from socialinstability caused by the strong influx of new residents and from socialheterogeneity, which is caused by the simultaneous presence of different incomegroups and, depending on local context, different ethnic groups.
These hypotheses are tested with Dutch victimization survey data amongapproximately 70,000 respondents, distributed across 2,500 neighbourhoods within500 municipalities in the Netherlands. The results show that, controlling forvarious individual, neighbourhood, and city characteristics, intensivesocioeconomic improvement of neighbourhoods is related to higher victimizationrisk for theft, violence, and vandalism.
To test the hypotheses, victimization survey data are combined with censusdata regarding the structural characteristics of neighbourhoods (four-digit zipcodes) and cities. The data for victimization and individual targetcharacteristics were drawn from the Dutch Police Population Monitor (PPM; DutchMinistry of Justice 1999).
Within each of the Netherlands’ 25 police regions, at least 1,000 interviewswere collected, and in most regions substantially higher numbers were gathered.The overall sample consisted of 77,539 respondents age 15 years or older.Complete data were available for 69,819 respondents from 2,526 neighbourhoods in527 municipalities, covering some 65 percent of all Dutch neighbourhoods and 98percent of Dutch municipalities.
Respondents were asked whether they had been the victim of a crime during thepast 12 months. Five different types of victimization were distinguished:burglary, car-related theft, violence, car vandalism, and other vandalism. Theresearchers selected incidents that occurred within the respondent’sneighbourhood of residence for further analysis.
- The chance of becoming the victim of a crime is higher not only indisadvantaged neighbourhoods, but also in neighbourhoods that are undergoingstrong socioeconomic improvement.
- The ethnic composition of the neighbourhood affects local victimizationrisk, with higher risk in areas with larger shares of non-Western immigrants,but improving and stable neighbourhoods do not differ much from each other onthis aspect.
- In neighbourhoods where improvements are taking place, decreases invictimization can be expected only after stabilization and, possibly,homogenization of the local community.
- If victimization risks in gentrifying areas remain high, affluent newcomerswill probably have lower attachment to place because of the fear of crime andperceived incivilities.
- Victimization risk in one’s own neighbourhood is not only dependent uponindividual and neighbourhood characteristics, but also upon the city’s socialcontext. Individuals living in cities with a large number of inhabitants, highmean income, and low levels of public social control run a higher risk ofbecoming the victim of a crime.
Leiden University - Faculty of Law
Johan van Wilsem
Johan van Wilsem - Leiden University; Karin Wittebrood - Social and Cultural Planning Office (SCP); Nan Dirk de Graaf - Radboud University
By: Bart Nijhof,