Gated Communities and Crime in the United States
Forthcoming, Oxford Handbook of Environmental Criminology, edited by Gerben Bruinsma and Shane Johnson, Oxford University Press.
23 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2017
Date Written: November 2017
Gated communities represent a modern housing trend that is quickly gaining prominence across the United States and challenging how researchers typically conceptualize neighborhoods. Gated communities feature distinct characteristics that differentiate them from non-gated neighborhoods, characteristics that likely bear important implications for neighborhood crime rates. For example, gated communities feature physical barriers, including gates and walls, which regulate access into the community and bar opportunities for potential offenders. Additionally, gated community residents may foster shared beliefs, values, and investment in their community that bolster informal social control, further insulating the community from crime. Despite the growing prevalence of gated communities and their potential influence on neighborhood crime rates, few studies examine the relationship between gated communities and crime. The present study extends this body of literature by conducting the first neighborhood-level analysis of gated communities and crime. Examining gated communities across Orange County, CA, we find that gated communities are associated with lower rates of violent and property crime compared to non-gated neighborhoods. These findings highlight the importance of gated communities in shaping neighborhood conditions and as an area for future research.
Keywords: gated communities, crime, neighborhoods
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