How Social Vulnerability, Place and Race Influence on Occurrence of Violent Crimes in US Counties

Hossein Zare, Paul Delgado, Celina Pargas, Michelle Spencer, Darrell J. Gaskin, Tatiana Warren, Roland J. Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


IMPORTANCE: Place and race are two important predictors of violent crime. Counties with higher social vulnerability experience higher violent crimes.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether a county's deprivation status influences the association between the number of violent crimes and how the number of fatal police shootings differs by race and ethnicity.

DATA & METHODS: We used the County Health Rankings Data (CHRD) for the ratio of violent crimes in counties. We merged this data with the American Community Survey (ACS) for Gini Coefficient (GC) and county characteristics. The analytical sample included 2,957 counties that have reported violent crimes between 2015 and 2020.
We used the ratio of violent crimes to 100,000 population in a county as a dependent variable. Using Centers for Disease Control (CDC) approach, we calculated social vulnerability index (SVI) as the main independent variable and categorized counties into low-SVI, medium-SVI, and high-SVI.
The mean and proportional differences between areas with low, middle, and high social vulnerability for the 15 elements of SVI were tested using unequal variances t-tests. We conducted several regression models to examine the association between the ratio of violent crimes, social vulnerability, and race. We controlled models for counties' racial composition, age composition, and population density, state and year fixed effects to capture state policies.
RESULTS: On average, between 2015 and 2020, counties experienced 248 violent crimes per 100,000 population, with a wide variation among counties. As we move from counties with low-SVI to counties with medium-SVI and high-SVI, the ratios of violent crimes increased from 161 in low-SVI counties to 235 and 349 respectively. Compared to low-SVI counties, we observed a 46% increase in violent crimes in medium- and 217% increase in high-SVI counties.
Multiple regression results showed a positive and strong association between violent crimes and counties' social vulnerabilities. Compared to low-SV counties, residents in counties with moderate-SVI experienced more than 29.0 (2.0) per 100,000 violent crimes, and it increased to 65.0 (3.0) in counties with high-SVI. Counties with a higher percentage of Hispanics (Coeff: 55.0, SE: 16.0), Black Non-Hispanics (625.0, SE: 19.0), and other racial groups (34.0, SE: 25.0), experienced a higher occurrence of violent crimes. Counties with higher young adults (20-35 years) experienced higher events of violent crimes (219, SE:71.0).

CONCLUSION: In addressing violent crimes, the place, race, and social vulnerability play significant roles. Policymakers may consider these predictors to address systemic racial disparities and treat the criminal justice system.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 6 Nov 2022
EventAmerican Public Health Association Annual Meeting & Expo - Boston, United States
Duration: 6 Nov 20226 Nov 2022


ConferenceAmerican Public Health Association Annual Meeting & Expo
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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