Social Networks and the Risk of Gunshot Injury
Andrew V. Papachristos
Yale University - Department of Sociology
Anthony A. Braga
Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - School of Criminal Justice
Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)
February 28, 2011
Objectives: This study investigates the relationship between an individual’s position in a social network and the probability of being a victim of a fatal or non-fatal gunshot wound.
Methods: This study combines detailed observational data from the police with records of fatal and non-fatal gunshot injuries among 763 individuals in Boston’s Cape Verdean community. After creating the social networks of these high-risk individuals, logistic regression is used to uncover the relationship between the odds of being a victim of a gunshot injury and various network characteristics.
Results: The probability of gunshot victimization is directly related to one’s network distance to other gunshot victims - i.e., the closer someone is to a gunshot victim, the more likely that person is to also be a gunshot victim. This social distance to gunshot victims operates above and beyond other types of exposure to gun violence. Younger individuals, gang members, and individuals with a high density of gang members in their interpersonal networks are also at increased risk of being a gunshot victim.
Conclusions: Risk of gunshot injuries in urban areas is more greatly concentrated than previously thought. While individual and neighborhood level risk factors contribute to the aggregate rates of violence, this study suggests that most of the actual risk of gun violence is concentrated in a small social network of identifiable individuals.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 19
Date posted: February 28, 2011 ; Last revised: April 4, 2013