U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Effect of Criminal Victimization on a Household's Moving Decision

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 37 Issue: 4 Dated: November 1999 Pages: 903-930
Laura Dugan
Date Published
28 pages
This study used data from 22,375 households in a longitudinal version of the National Crime Survey for the years 1986-90 to test the hypothesis that criminal victimization is associated with an increased probability that a household moves geographically.
Only a small amount of research addresses the impact of criminal victimization on moving. Knowledge of this under-researched relationship is important for three reasons. First, moving is costly to the victim in both financial and psychological terms. Second, the existence of a victimization-mobility relationship may partially explain why people migrate to suburban areas from cities. Third, data indicating that criminal victimization leads to more mobility may help explain a cycle that perpetuates disorder and neighborhood decline, given that residential mobility reduces social control. Results supported the study hypothesis. The finding that crimes committed away from the victims' homes did not influence their probability of moving reinforced this conclusion. The results did not support a secondary hypothesis predicting that violent crime more strongly affected the probability of moving. However, results revealed a consistent, positive association between criminal victimization near the home and moving, regardless of crime type. Findings have several implications in criminology; these range from researchers' systematically underestimating victim costs to communities' developing and perpetuating a cycle of crime, moving, and more crime. Tables, figures, footnotes, and 51 references (Author abstract modified)