Matt Vogel: Nearby Neighborhoods and Adolescent Offending: Evidence from Three Samples

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

309 McNeil Building, 3718 Locust Walk 


A large body of research highlights the importance of spatial dependence for understanding community crimes rates. Criminogenic features of neighborhoods, such as high levels of socioeconomic disadvantage, often spillover and influence levels of crime in surrounding neighborhoods. Scholars have recently started to explore whether similar dynamics characterize the relationship between neighborhood disadvantage and individual variation in offending. This small body of research suggests that levels of disadvantage in neighborhoods that are geographically proximate to residential neighborhoods – referred to as ‘extralocal’ or ‘extended’ neighborhoods – operate differently than what is observed in aggregate studies of neighborhood crime, reducing rather than increasing offending. Explanations for this phenomenon are scarce and it remains unclear why characteristics of nearby places, when considered alongside features of residential neighborhoods, would exert countervailing influences on youth offending. This talk summarizes findings from a large, collaborative project that attempts to disentangle the more proximate mechanisms through which ‘extralocal neighborhood effects’ operate. Generally speaking, our results point to the role of two complementary processes that explain why youth offend at higher rates when the neighborhoods near to where they live are characterized by lower levels of socioeconomic disadvantage than their own. First, we find that relative affluence in the surrounding community initiates unfavorable comparison processes through which youth come to view their opportunities for success as limited. Feelings of relative deprivation, in turn, lead youth to rationalize their delinquent conduct and engage in externalizing forms of offending (presumably) intended to redress perceived inequalities. Second, we find that extralocal disadvantage increases parental monitoring, limiting the amount of time adolescents engage in unsupervised activities with their peers, driving down levels of self-reported offending. We document these processes among three large samples of urban youth across two countries (the United States and the Netherlands). Collectively, our results underscore the importance of spatial inequality, rather than concentrated disadvantage, for understanding neighborhood influences on youth offending.



Matt Vogel received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University at Albany in 2012. Prior to joining the faculty at UMSL, he worked as a research scientist at the Center for Human Services Research in Albany, New York.  Dr. Vogel’s research focuses on the ways in which broader social contexts, such as neighborhoods and schools, condition the association between individual risk-factors and delinquency.  His research also explores the overlap between social demography and criminology, particularly how population dynamics contribute to incarceration trends.