Crime and U.S. cities: Recent patterns and implications

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Crime fell substantially in the United States between the early 1990s and 2005. This article examines the size and nature of crime reductions that occurred in cities and their surrounding suburbs and identifies the characteristics of cities experiencing greater declines. The authors then explore two questions: how these changes altered existing disparities in safety (or exposure to crime) among particular groups and the extent to which these reductions increased the relative attractiveness of cities and ultimately led to city growth. The authors find that reductions in crime contributed to the ability of cities to retain households that might otherwise have moved to the suburbs, although the measurable impact on overall city growth is modest at best. Additionally, reductions in crime clearly changed the geography of crime and dramatically reshaped differential exposure to crime among demographic groups. At the city and neighborhood level, the authors find that the distribution of crime reductions was highly "progressive," disproportionately benefiting historically disadvantaged groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-38
Number of pages17
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • City growth
  • Crime
  • Poverty
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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