Distinguishing the City, Neighbourhood and Individual Level in the Explanation of Youth Delinquency: A Multilevel Approach
Previous research on intercity differences in crime rates neglects individual determinants of youth delinquency, whereas studies focusing on neighbourhoodand individual-level explanations of youth delinquency neglect higher-level, city characteristics. This raises the question of the extent to which city characteristics can contribute to the explanation of youth delinquency, above and beyond the influence of neighbourhood and individual characteristics. To answer this question we first discuss how previous macro-level research explains city differences in crime rates, and then we test whether there is empirical evidence that youth delinquency differs not only between individuals but also between neighbourhoods and, moreover, between cities. Using data collected among 12–17-year-old adolescents from 11 Dutch cities, multilevel analyses revealed that there is a substantial amount of variance to be explained at the city level, even after controlling for composition effects and differences between surveys. In contrast with previous research studying neighbourhood influences on youth delinquency but neglecting the city level, we found very little variance at the neighbourhood level. Possible explanations and implications for future research are given by linking explanations at the different levels.