A new study led by researchers at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania finds that majority Black neighborhoods have higher gun homicide rates than majority White neighborhoods. This comparison holds true, according to the researchers, even when the neighborhoods have the same socio-economic demographics.
Utilizing data from the Gun Violence Archive and American Community Survey, the researchers found that, among middle-class neighborhoods, the rate of gun homicides is more than four times higher in neighborhoods with mostly Black residents than neighborhoods with mostly White residents.
Dylan Small, the Class of 1965 Professor of Statistics at Wharton and the senior author of the study, explains that higher gun homicide rates exist across socioeconomic status due to America’s history of racially segregated housing. “The U.S. remains highly residentially segregated by race despite improvements since the 1960s,” Dr. Small says. “Besides residential segregation reducing Black individuals’ socioeconomic status by such mechanisms as inhibiting wealth accumulation through housing value and limiting access to high-quality schools, our findings suggest that even among neighborhoods of the same socioeconomic status, residential segregation may put Black individuals at higher risk of gun homicide.
“There tends to be less public and private investment in majority-Black neighborhoods.” Professor Smalls adds. “That can translate into fewer resources in the neighborhood, especially relative to need. For example, a lack of resources for programs for adolescents and young adults that might help them to stay away from gangs and street conflicts.”
The full study, “Neighborhood Racial Composition and Gun Homicides,” was published on JAMA Network Open. It may be downloaded by clicking here.