Social disorganization theory and crime in the advanced countries: two centuries of evidence

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According to social disorganization theory, a well-developed family and community structure is a pre-condition for low crime rates. Using annual data for 16 advanced countries constructed for two centuries, this paper examines the extent to which the changing family and community structures over the past two centuries have influenced the evolution of crime. Furthermore, we test whether a weakened family structure has a stronger effect on crime in communities with weak social networks by allowing for the interaction between urbanization (community network) and divorce rates (family network). Broadly, we find that changes in family and community structures and their interaction have been influential for the evolution of crime rates since 1810.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-537
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • History of crime
  • Property crime
  • Social disorganization theory
  • Violent crime

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