Homicide Rates and the Multiple Dimensions of Urbanization: A Longitudinal, Cross-National Analysis
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Sustainability scholars frame urbanization as a multidimensional concept with divergent environmental impacts. Through synthesizing recent quantitative studies of urbanization in criminology, we evaluated this multidimensional framework in a longitudinal, cross-national analysis of homicide rates for 217 countries between 2000 and 2015. For the analysis, we also highlighted the issue of missing data, a common concern for cross-national scholars in a variety of disciplines. While controlling for other relevant factors, we compared results from panel models that use the common technique of listwise deletion (n = 113) and from structural equation models (SEM) that handle missing values with full information maximum likelihood (n = 216). While the estimates for the control variables are non-significant in the SEM approach, the findings for the urbanization variables were robust and multidimensional. In particular, while the proportion of the population that is urban is positively related to homicide, the proportion of the population living in large cities of at least one million inhabitants is significantly and negatively related to homicide in all models. Given our focus on urbanization, we outline our contribution not only in the context of criminology but also the cross-national sustainability literature, which often uses similar variables with missing values.