How Concentrated is Crime at Places? A Systematic Review from 1970 to 2015

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Concentration of crime, Place, Systematic review, Meta-analysis, Visual binning

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Background: Despite the increasing awareness and interests about the importance of crime concentration at places, scholars have not comprehensively synthesized the body of evidence related to this thesis. We conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence that crime is concentrated among places.

Methods: We identified 44 studies that empirically examined crime concentration at place and provided quantitative information sufficient for analysis. We organized data using visual binning and fitted logarithmic curves to the median values of the bins. We examine concentration in two conditions: when all places are studied (prevalence), and when only places with at least one crime are studied (frequency).

Results: We find that crime is concentrated at a relatively few places in both conditions. We also compared concentration for calls for services to reported crime incidents. Calls for services appear more concentrated than crime at places. Because there are several ways place is defined, we compared different units of analysis. Crime is more concentrated at addresses than other units, including street segments. We compared crime concentration over time and found less concentration in 2000s compared to 1980s and 1990s. We also compared crime concentration between U.S. and non-U.S. countries and found more concentration in U.S. Finally, violent crime is more concentrated than property crime.

Conclusions: Though we systematically reviewed a comprehensive list of studies, summarizing this literature is problematic. Not only should more systematic reviews be conducted as more research becomes available, but future inquiries should examine other ways of summarizing these studies that could challenge our findings.

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Crime Science, v. 6, art. 6