Jeffrey A. Fagan Ph.D.

School of Law
Columbia University
Email: Discipline: Public Health Expertise: Violence

Investigator Award
Social Contagion of Adolescent Violence
Award Year: 2001 While the 1985-1998 epidemic of adolescent violence in U.S. cities has generated intense scholarly and policy interest, spatial and temporal diffusion of the epidemic have been largely overlooked. This project will explore whether current models of infectious disease epidemics can be adapted to explain the spread of youthful violence - particularly its onset, spread, peak, recession and cessation. It will also examine the resilience of some neighborhoods to epidemics of violence, despite social similarities to "infected" communities. Dr. Fagan will construct a conceptual model integrating elements of disease and injury epidemiology with sociological theories of diffusion and contagion. He will apply the model to data on violence morbidity and mortality derived from New York City's 2,220 census tracts. He also will integrate data from life history interviews with young men involved in interpersonal violence to construct a model of social interaction that illustrates the mechanisms of transmission. The project hopes to identify and help resolve competing perspectives on the control of social epidemics as well as leading to more sophisticated strategies for addressing them.


Jeffrey Fagan is a professor of law and public health at Columbia University, co-director of the Center for Crime, Community and Law at Columbia Law School, and a member of the Steering Committee of the Columbia Center on Youth Violence Prevention at the Mailman School of Public Health. His research and scholarship focuses on crime, law and social policy. His current and recent research examines social contagion of violence, legal socialization of adolescents, the social geography of domestic violence, legal and illegal work, the jurisprudence of adolescent crime, drug control policy, capital punishment, racial profiling, and perceived legitimacy of the criminal law. He is a member of the Committee on Law and Justice of the U.S. National Academy of Science, the National Consortium on Violence Research, the MacArthur Foundation's Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice, and the Working Group on Legitimacy and the Criminal Law of the Russell Sage Foundation. He is past Editor of the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, and sits on the editorial boards of several journals on crime, criminology, and law. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Criminology. He has been awarded fellowships by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He received a Soros Senior Justice Fellow from the Open Society Institute.