Neighborhood Disadvantage and Criminal Behavior –
Between – Within Analysis using Finnish Registry Data
Jaakko Airaksinen et al, Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy, University of Helsinki
Abstract of the presentation at Eurocrim 2020:
The impact of neighborhood disadvantage on crime has been extensively studied in the US, but far less so elsewhere. We examined how neighborhood disadvantage is associated with criminal behavior in Finland.
We used a registry-based dataset that includes all children aged 0-14 living in Finland at the end of year 2000 with follow-up until the end of 2017 (n=936,333). Using multilevel between-within analyses we examined differences between neighborhoods in criminal behavior, and whether moving to more/less deprived neighborhoods was associated with changes in criminal behavior. Across various disadvantage indices, there were clear differences between neighborhoods in whether residents were suspected of any crimes, violent crimes, or property crime.
However, the clustering of criminal behavior, although statistically significant, was rather low. Further, in the within-individual analyses, all the associations attenuated markedly. Taken together, while changes in neighborhood disadvantage were associated with changes in criminal behavior, the practical significance of those associations was questionable.
Inequality between neighborhoods in Finland is not as overt as in the U.S. Still, there are differences between neighborhoods which are reflected in the criminal behavior of residents. However, evidence for actual neighborhood effects was more limited.