From Cohen, L.E. and Felson, M. (1979). Social change and crime rate trends: A routine activity approach. American Sociological Review, 44, 588-608.

8.1 Abstract 188 8.2 Introduction 188

8.2.1 The Structure of Criminal Activity 190 8.2.2 Selected Concepts from Hawley’s Human Ecological

Theory 190 8.2.3 The Minimal Elements of Direct-Contact Predatory

Violations 191 8.2.4 The Ecological Nature of Illegal Acts 191

8.3 Relation of the Routine Activity Approach to Extant Studies 193 8.3.1 Descriptive Analyses 193 8.3.2 Macrolevel Analyses of Crime Trends and Cycles 194 8.3.3 Microlevel Assumptions of the Routine Activity Approach 196

8.4 Empirical Assessment 197 8.4.1 Circumstances and Location of Offenses 197 8.4.2 Target Suitability 199 8.4.3 Family Activities and Crime Rates 200

8.5 Changing Trends in Routine Activity Structure and Parallel Trends in Crime Rates 204 8.5.1 Trends in Human Activity Patterns 204 8.5.2 Related Property Trends and Their Relation to Human

Activity Patterns 206 8.5.3 Related Trends in Business Establishments 206 8.5.4 Composition of Crime Trends 207

In this paper we present a “routine activity approach” for analyzing crime rate trends and cycles. Rather than emphasizing the characteristics of offenders, with this approach we concentrate upon the circumstances in which they carry out predatory criminal acts. Most criminal acts require convergence in space and time of likely offenders, suitable targets, and the absence of capable guardians against crime. Human ecological theory facilitates an investigation into the way in which social structure produces this convergence, hence allowing illegal activities to feed upon the legal activities of everyday life. In particular, we hypothesize that the dispersion of activities away from households and families increases the opportunity for crime and thus generates higher crime rates. A variety of data is presented in support of the hypothesis, which helps explain crime rate trends in the United States 1947 to 1974 as a byproduct of changes in such variables as labor force participation and single-adult households.