Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Charles Heller

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan Carlson

Third Advisor

Dr. Eldor Quandt

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The spatial distribution of the relationship between crime rates and urban ecology in Grand Rapids, Michigan over time is the focus of this study. Urban ecology can often be measured by indicators of social disorganization. Five crimes (larceny, burglary, robbery, aggravated assault, and homicide) were regressed with several indicators of social disorganization. The independent variables were poverty, transience, family disorganization, the percentage of youth in the population, race, and household density. Both violent and property crimes were strongly related to race while specific crimes were related to poverty, family disorganization, the percentage of youth in the population, and transience. Property crimes were related to several indicators of social disorganization, and robbery and violent crimes were related to race.

Although the strength of the relationship between indicators of social disorganization and crime rates generally weakened over time, race emerged as the most important predictor of the crime rate. Overall, exceptions to the rule (residuals) appeared in transitional neighborhoods.