Examining the Relationship Between the Structural
Characteristics of Place and Crime by Imputing Census
Block Data in Street Segments: Is the Pain Worth
Published online: 23 September 2016
Ó Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016
The current study proposes unique methods for apportioning existing census
data in blocks to street segments and examines the effects of structural characteristics of
street segments on crime. Also, this study tests if the effects of structural characteristics of
street segments are similar with or distinct from those of blocks.
This study compiled a unique dataset in which block-level structural charac-
teristics are apportioned to street segments utilizing the 2010 U.S. Census data of the cities
of Anaheim, Santa Ana, and Huntington Beach in Orange County, California. Negative
binomial regression models predicting crime that include measures of social disorgani-
zation and criminal opportunities in street segments and blocks were estimated.
The results show that whereas some of the coefﬁcients tested at the street segment
level are similar to those aggregated to blocks, a few were quite different (most notably,
racial/ethnic heterogeneity). Additional analyses conﬁrm that the imputation methods are
generally valid compared to data actually collected at the street segment level.
The results from the street segment models suggest that the structural
characteristics from social disorganization and criminal opportunities theories at street
segments may operate as crucial settings for crime. Also the results indicate that structural
characteristics have generally similar effects on crime in street segments and blocks, yet
have some distinct effects at the street segment level that may not be observable when
looking at the block level. Such differences underscore the necessity of serious consid-
eration of the issues of level of aggregation and unit of analysis when examining the
structural characteristics-crime nexus.
Keywords Street segments Á Structural characteristics Á Criminal opportunities Á Social
disorganization theory Á Level of aggregation Á Unit of analysis
& Young-An Kim
Department of Criminology, Law and Society, University of California - Irvine, 3331 Social
Ecology II, Irvine, CA 92697-7080, USA
J Quant Criminol (2018) 34:67–110