Study: Minority victimization rises in recession


A new study cowritten by a UI sociology professor found that minority victimization increases during times of economic recession.

UI sociology Professor Karen Heimer and University of Missouri Professor Janet Lauritsen presented their study, which analyzed this correlation, on Sunday.

“The research for this study was part of a larger study involving different socioeconomic groups and trends in violent crime victims,” Lauritsen said.

The study took 35 years of data, from 1973 to 2005, and figured the rates of nonlethal violent victimization against minority men and women compared with that of non-Latino whites.

“Minority victimization rates increased, but there were no substantial parallel increases in the victimization rates of non-Latino whites” Heimer said.

The high poverty rate for minorities was a main factor in the increased victimization rate, Heimer and Lauritsen said.

Minority poverty rates grow during times of economic recession, the authors said.
UI sociology Assistant Professor Mary Campbell said poverty disproportionately affects minority groups, causing a large gap for poverty in the United States.

“[The] research is very important because she reminds us to think not just about the differences in who perpetrates crime but who the victims are,” she said. “This way, we as a society can mobilize to protect these groups which are more vulnerable.”

Heimer and Lauritsen spent two years conducting the study, funding the research with a grant from the National Institute of Justice.

UI Public Policy Center Director Peter Damiano said many are hopeful the study will reach research and policy groups, noting that Heimer has made her research accessible to policymakers.

“Our results remind policymakers and communities that there are many aspects of people’s lives — including violent crime — that are associated with economic downturns,” Heimer said. “And, more importantly, they remind us that racial and ethnic minorities may be hardest hit by recessions.”

The sociologists want criminologists and policymakers to consider their findings, as well as police and criminal justice workers, Heimer said.

“Criminologists have not paid enough attention to how crime is experienced by different subgroups in our country,” Lauritsen said. “We need to study victimization trends across these subgroups.”

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