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Exposure to Guns and Gun Violence Across 25+ Years in the Lives of Multiple Birth Cohorts From Chicago

Overview

This project addresses three challenges to research on urban gun violence: a lack of data on exposure to guns and gun violence over the extended life course; the understudied role of compounded disadvantage among individuals, families, and communities; and a lack of analytic focus on societal change.

Status

Awarded

Purpose

The last quarter-century has witnessed widespread changes, including large declines in violence, mass incarceration, the loosening of gun laws, and sharp fluctuations in policing. The purpose of this project is to examine the correlates and consequences of gun violence over the life course during this period of dramatic social change.

Approach

This study will enlarge and analyze longitudinal data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN)—a representative and diverse sample of more than 1,000 members of four birth cohorts of Chicago children who were followed over four waves of interviews, 1995–2012. At baseline, the cohorts ranged from newborns to ages 9, 12, and 15. Investigators will analyze existing waves of data and multiple extensions including longitudinal data on neighborhood gun violence. Further, they will conduct and analyze a new, fifth survey wave to be carried out in early 2021. The integrated PHDCN+ data collection will cover the last quarter-century of American history when children from diverse socioeconomic and racial backgrounds were growing up and becoming adults. The multi-cohort design comprising birth to age 41, combined with the comprehensive data collection, permits examination of gun violence over the life course during a period of considerable social change.

Significance

Gun violence and criminal justice have changed dramatically in the last quarter-century, yet cohort differences in aging through this period have largely unstudied consequences for children's development, and in turn for effective policies. The project will unite the study of gun violence with the study of the changing life course.

Investigator Bios

  • Robert J. Sampson is Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the British Academy, and he received the Stockholm Prize in Criminology for his work on crime and the life course. Sampson is the author of three award-winning books and numerous peer-reviewed journal articles. His most recent book is Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect.
  • David Kirk is professor in the Department of Sociology and Nuffield College at the University of Oxford. He has worked on the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods for two decades and has successfully managed numerous research projects, including a recent experimental housing program for former prisoners. His book, Home Free, uses Hurricane Katrina as a natural experiment to examine whether residential relocation away from an old neighborhood can lead to desistance from crime.
Grant Amount
$1,536,790
Award Type
Research
Organization
Harvard University
Investigators
Robert J. Sampson, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University; and David S. Kirk, professor in the Department of Sociology and Nuffield College at the University of Oxford.
Expected Completion Date
September 2023
Year Awarded
2020
Focus Areas
Urban Gun Violence