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Revista INVI

On-line version ISSN 0718-8358


ESCOBAR, Gipsy. Using social disorganization theory to tnderstand the spatial distribution of homicides in Bogota, Colombia. Revista INVI [online]. 2012, vol.27, n.74, pp.21-85. ISSN 0718-8358.

The social disorganization tradition has found community disadvantage to be one of the strongest and most consistent macro-level predictors of homicides in urban areas in the United States. However, research conducted in urban areas of Latin America suggests that the effects of disadvantage and disorganization on homicides may be different in that region. This study assesses the spatial effects of community disadvantage and the ability of communities to secure external resources (i.e. public control) on neighborhood homicide rates in Bogota, Colombia using spatial data analysis. Data from several sources including official homicide figures, 2005 census, and interviews were used. Results provide partial support for social disorganization theory: concentrated disadvantage/social isolation, and social disorder seem to predict higher homicide rates, while the availability of basic public services (a proxy for public control) has a negative effect on the dependent variable. Unexpected results were observed: the presence of agencies of social control (i.e. police and conflict resolution) predict higher, while the proportion of young males and population density predict lower homicide rates. The presence of other criminal structures (e.g., gangs, militias, drugs and arms trafficking) and people displaced by the conflict were not significant. Implications for theory and policy are discussed.


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