Social & Education Policy


Violent Victimization in the US: The Vulnerability of Minorities and Women over Time

In the United States, blacks and Latinos are more vulnerable to violent victimization, and women are more vulnerable to victimization by intimate partners. It is likely that economic disadvantage is key in victimization risk, but the relationship between violent victimization and race, ethnicity, gender, and economic disadvantage remain poorly understood.

Professor Karen Heimer's study (with Janet Lauritsen of the University of Missouri, and Joseph Lang, UI) pools the data on more than 6.5 million interviews from the National Crime Survey (1973-1992) and National Crime Victimization Survey (1993-2010). It then uses statistical modeling for rare event data to estimate the independent and conditional effects of race, ethnicity, gender, and economic disadvantage on violent victimization, and to assess how these effects change over time.  It looks at risks for the subtypes of violence by strangers, acquaintances, and intimate partners, which are known to vary across race/ethnicity and gender. 

The results of the project will have important policy implications. If, for example, we find that blacks and Latinos are more vulnerable to violence during certain historical periods, such as during economic recessions, this would indicate that targeting economic assistance programs at minorities may have the added bonus of reducing victimization in addition to any other benefits. If intimate partner violence against women varies across race/ethnicity and is conditioned by economic disadvantage, this would inform the focus of victim-assistance programs.