Date of Award

8-1997

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Carlson

Second Advisor

Dr. Ron Kramer

Third Advisor

Dr. Doug Davidson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Rudy Siebert

Abstract

This study examines the effects of deteriorated economic conditions caused by General Motor's deindustrialization efforts between 1975 and 1993 on crime rates in four Michigan cities. The Michigan cities ofFlint and Saginaw are used as examples of cities that were highly dependent on General Motors for their economic well-being, and are compared with Lansing and Grand Rapids which had more diversified economies and experienced less social disorganization. It is hypothesized that General Motor's deindustrialization efforts in Flint and Saginaw caused social disorganization to increase, which, in turn, caused crime rates to increase. Lansing and Grand Rapids, on the other hand, are hypothesized to have lower crime rates during this time because their economies were less dependent on General Motors.

Quarterly crime rates for five crimes (i.e., homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary and auto theft) are used as the dependent variables in saturated path models that contains measures of deindustrialization and social disorganization for each city. Deindustrialization measures include the timing of policy changes at General Motors, the cumulative number of plants closed in each city, and transportation equipment manufacturing employment. Population and unemployment are used as measures of social disorganization. Both the direct and indirect effects of each variable on the five crimes are tested using time-series analysis.

The results of the present study provide general support for the theoretical model, with the strongest empirical support in Flint, where deindustrialization significantly increased unemployment. In turn, high unemployment led to population decline which significantly increased all five crime rates, consistent with the theoretical model This pattern also holds in Saginaw for the crimes of robbery and automobile theft. However, these patterns are not found for any of the five crimes in Lansing and Grand Rapids, which again supports the theoretical model linking deindustrialization, social disorganization, and crime.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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