The Enduring Neighborhood Effect, Everyday Urban Mobility, and Violence in Chicago
A longstanding tradition of research linking neighborhood disadvantage to higher rates of violence is based on the characteristics of where people reside. This Essay argues that we need to look beyond residential neighborhoods to consider flows of movement throughout the wider metropolis. Our basic premise is that a neighborhood’s well-being depends not only on its own socioeconomic conditions but also on the conditions of neighborhoods that its residents visit and are visited by—connections that form through networks of everyday urban mobility. Based on the analysis of large-scale urban-mobility data, we find that while residents of both advantaged and disadvantaged neighborhoods in Chicago travel far and wide, their relative isolation by race and class persists. Among large U.S. cities, Chicago’s level of racially segregated mobility is the second highest. Consistent with our major premise, we further show that mobility-based socioeconomic disadvantage predicts rates of violence in Chicago’s neighborhoods beyond their residence-based disadvantage and other neighborhood characteristics, including during recent years that witnessed surges in violence and other broad social changes. Racial disparities in mobility-based disadvantage are pronounced—more so than residential neighborhood disadvantage. We discuss implications of these findings for theories of neighborhood effects on crime and criminal justice contact, collective efficacy, and racial inequality.