Monday, February 16, 2015

Cities Where Crime Is Plummeting

24/7 Wall St.

The prevalence of violent crime — which includes murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault — has declined in many of the nation’s metropolitan areas. In some regions it has fallen at an especially fast pace. In Dubuque, Iowa, the violent crime rate fell by nearly 60% — from 387.2 cases per 100,000 people in 2009 to 159.8 cases per 100,000 people in 2013. Based on figures published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), these are the metropolitan areas with the greatest declines in the violent crime rate.

John Roman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, explained that crime rates in the United States have fluctuated dramatically for decades. Crime increased in the 1960s and 1970s, for example, and then declined everywhere in the 1990s until it became stable. “About midway through the last decade, [however], crime started to decline again, only this time, it declined in some places, but not in others,” Roman said. The question is why crime rates decline in some areas but not in others.

The area’s economy and economic segregation account in part for the diversity in crime levels. For example, most of the metropolitan areas with plummeting crime rates also had relatively low unemployment rates. Seven of the 10 areas had lower unemployment rates than the national rate of 7.4% in 2013. However, none of these places were especially wealthy. In fact, the median household income exceeded the national figure of $52,250 in 2013 in only Racine, Wisconsin.

According to Roman, how well a metro area attracts young residents — who may not have had time to earn large incomes — is more important than high incomes in some cases. “Places that bring new people to a city tend to experience the biggest crime declines,” Roman said. And while “the biggest predictor of crime is having lots of young men in dense proximation,” many of the places with plummeting crime rates happen to be college towns, which attract high concentrations of young people. A university encourages growth and innovation, for example. And increasingly, universities promote integration with the community, which has a positive overall effect on a town. Nine of the metropolitan areas where crime is plummeting were home to at least one university.

1. Dubuque, IA
> 5-year change in violent crime rate: -58.7%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 387.2
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 159.8
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 0.0

No metropolitan area reviewed had a greater drop in violent crime than Dubuque, Iowa. Less than 160 violent crimes were reported per 100,000 residents in 2013, down nearly 60% from 2009 when more than 387 crimes were reported per 100,000 people. Like only a handful of U.S. metropolitan areas, there were zero murders in Dubuque in 2013. Other crimes were similarly infrequent. Dubuque had an aggravated assault rate of just 104 per 100,000 people, for example, less than half the national rate of 229 per 100,000 Americans in 2013. The job market was also exceptionally strong that year, with an unemployment rate of just 4.5%. By contrast, 7.4% of the nation’s workforce was unemployed.


  1. How is that possible Iowa allows all those scary handguns shouldn't skyrocketing????

  2. Inevitably, crime rates will turn around and start going up. We'll see if you stick with "other factors" then. I get the feeling you are just biding your time waiting to pounce on something in your favor:

    Other factors...
    Other factors...
    Other factors...
    Other factors...
    Guns! Look what the guns are doing!