Multilevel Spatio-Temporal Dual Changepoint Models for Relating Alcohol Outlet Destruction and Changes in Neighbourhood Rates of Assaultive Violence

Published in: Geospatial health, v. 2, no. 2, June 2008, p. [161]-172

Posted on on December 31, 2007

by Qingzhao Yu, Richard Scribner, Bradley P Carlin, Katherine P. Theall, Neal Simonsen, Madhumita Ghosh Dastidar, Deborah Cohen, Karen Mason

Many previous studies have suggested a link between alcohol outlets and assaultive violence. In this paper, the authors evaluate the impact of the 1992 Civil Unrest in Los Angeles (which followed the Rodney King incident), in which many alcohol outlets were damaged leading to a decrease in alcohol outlet density, on crime. The authors leverage the natural experiment created by the closure of alcohol outlets in certain areas and not others to explore the effects of alcohol availability on assault crimes at the census tract level. The authors develop a hierarchical model that controls for important covariates (such as race and socio-economic status) and accounts for unexplained spatial and temporal variability. While our model is somewhat complex, its hierarchical Bayesian analysis is accessible via the WinBUGS software. Our results show that, keeping other effects fixed, the reduction in alcohol availability within a census tract was associated with a drop in the assaultive violence rate at the census tract level. Comparing several dual candidate changepoint models using the Deviance Information Criterion, the drop in assaultive violence rate is best seen as having occurred one year after the reduction in alcohol availability, with the effect lasting roughly five years. The authors also create maps of the fitted assault rates in Los Angeles, as well as spatial residual maps that suggest various spatially-varying covariates are still missing from our model.

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